Recognizing Humanity's Most Magnificent Machine
12 April 2011
On 12 April 1981, thirty years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia became the first shuttle to orbit the Earth. Flown by Commander John W. Young and Pilot Robert L. Crippen, Columbia spent two days aloft on its checkout mission, STS-1, which ended in a smooth landing, airplane-style, at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Columbia was launched again seven months later on STS-2, becoming the first piloted reuseable orbiter.
Today also marks the 50th anniversary of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin.
With the Space Shuttle program winding down, here's a look back at some of the highlights (11 images total):
As a tribute to NASA's Space Shuttle Program, artist Brian Basset created this commemorative drawing depicting his characters, Red and Rover, racing alongside the Space Shuttle as it lands for the final time later this year. In 2004, Basset was honored with a one-man show of his space-themed comic strips at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. On July 26, 2005, an original drawing by Basset commemorating America's return to flight launched aboard shuttle Discovery on the STS-114 mission.
Basset created the strip in 2000 about a boy and his dog, who dream of one day going into space. Twice nominated by the National Cartoonists Society for Best Comic Strip of the Year in 2003 and 2010, Red and Rover appears in more than 160 newspapers worldwide and is syndicated by Universal Uclick. Previously, Basset worked as an editorial cartoonist for The Seattle Times.
Image Credit: Brian Basset (used by the author's permission)