It's hard to believe that when I originally posted this the Space Shuttle had been flying for 30 years. It's also hard to believe the fleet was retired without anything ready to replace it. I guess that's par for the course, considering they did the same thing when they retired the Saturn V that had carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon.
Rather than dwell on this lack of vision I'll look back to a happier day - April 14, 1981. That was the first landing of the orbiter Columbia. I was lucky to get a press pass to the landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, which helped me get around a massive traffic jam of people heading out there to be part of history. The designated area was just behind the TV crews, which meant there was a nice view of the Columbia as it came towards us.
Here's a view of the ABC News crew as we all waited for our first view of the Columbia.
Following the distinctive booms as the orbiter broke the sound barrier it was a thrill to see the Columbia heading towards us. It's only a very tiny dot in this picture, but at the speed it was moving it quickly took form.
The Columbia came to a stop right where they had told us it would. The crew of mission STS-1 was safely back on Earth.
Before the astronauts could exit the orbiter a team of technicians had to check it for leaks of any fuel or other chemicals that could have posed a danger. A van then went out to carry the crew off to their debriefing.
This page was last updated on October 16, 2016
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