A New Spaceship
The world's first reusable spaceship, Columbia, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in March 1979.
NASA assigned two astronauts for the first flight, Apollo veteran John Young and rookie Bob Crippen. At the time, NASA put the odds of them not surviving at about 1-in-100,000, but the risk actually was about 1-in-nine.
Powered by three hydrogen-burning engines and a pair of solid-rocket boosters, the shuttle lifted off on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight.
NASA stopped painting the shuttles' fuel tanks white after the second flight, saving money and about 600 pounds of weight.
Between July 1982 and April 1985, three more space shuttles -- Challenger, Discovery and Atlantis -- arrived at the Florida spaceport.