First Years The Shuttle program was formally authorized on Jan. 5, 1972. In 1977Ð78 the first Shuttle, Enterprise, made five landing tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., after being carried aloft by a Boeing 747. The final flight-readiness firing took place on Feb. 20, 1981, when the three main engines of Columbia, the first flight orbiter, were fired together in a pad test at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). First launch, with commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen aboard, was made on Apr. 12, 1981. The Shuttle landed successfully at Edwards AFB on April 14. The second test flight (Nov. 12Ð14, 1981) was cut short because of a fuel-cell failure. The third flight (Mar. 22Ð30, 1982), commanded by Jack R. Lousma and piloted by C. Gordon Fullerton, was extended by one day and included the first landing at White Sands, N.Mex. Commander Thomas Mattingly and pilot Henry W. Hartsfield were aboard the fourth flight (June 27ÐJuly 4, 1982). The fifth flight (Nov. 11Ð16, 1982), commanded by Vance D. Brand, and with a crew of three, was an operational flight in which two commercial communications satellites were deployed. Flight six, the first to use the orbiter Challenger, was flown Apr. 4Ð9, 1983, by commander Paul Weitz and a crew of three. Mission specialists Donald Peterson and Story Musgrave achieved extravehicular activity (EVA). The crew deployed TDRS 1, a communications satellite. On flight seven, June 18Ð24, 1983, in Challenger, commander Robert Crippen's four-person crew included Sally K. Ride, the first U.S. woman astronaut. The crew deployed and retrieved West Germany's SPAS-01 test satellite, using the Shuttle's robot arm. They also deployed Canada's Anik C and Indonesia's Palapa B communications satellites. Flight eight, Aug. 30ÐSept. 5, 1983, began with the first night launch. Challenger's commander, Richard Truly, had a four-person crew, including Guion S.
Bluford, the first black U.S. astronaut. This crew launched India's Insat-1B satellite. Flight nine, in Columbia on Nov. 28ÐDec. 8, 1983, carried the first Spacelab. Commander John Young had a crew of five, including Owen Garriott. The crew conducted inner-ear studies and biological and materials-science tests. The tenth Shuttle flight took place on Feb. 3Ð11, 1984. Aboard Challenger were commander Vance D. Brand and a crew of four. They achieved the successful testing of the manned maneuvering unit, a jet-propelled system that enabled Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart to move freely in space, and the first Shuttle landing at Cape Canaveral. Two satellites launched by the crew, howeverÑWestern Union's Westar and Indonesia's Palapa B-2Ñdid not enter proper orbit because their rockets failed. The 11th Shuttle mission was flown in Challenger on Apr. 7Ð13, 1984, by commander Robert L. Crippen and a crew of four. The crew restored to service the malfunctioning Solar Maximum Mission satellite. The 12th mission, aborted 2.6 seconds after engine start-up on June 26, 1984, when a fuel valve on one engine of the new Shuttle, Discovery, failed to open, finally took place on Aug. 30ÐSept. 5, 1984, with commander Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., and a crew of five. Charles Walker became the first person from private industry to fly in the Shuttle. The crew launched the SBS-4, Leasat-2, and Telstar-3 communications satellites.