Space exploration has changed and developed since the first man was sent into space. Advanced rockets, new computer technology, and remote controlled robots are only a few of the things that made space travel possible. Even though this technology was efficient, it was not cheap. When a rocket was sent into space, only the capsule holding the astronauts returned to space. This expensive way of space travel was forever changed with the creation of the space shuttle. The Columbia space shuttle was important to space exploration because it used new technology that changed space travel, completed missions that other spacecraft could not, and brought new people into space.
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Young as the Commander, and Robert L. Crippen as the shuttle pilot (Lewis 114). At first, the launch was scheduled for April 10, but a problem in the timing of the computers in the shuttle caused the launch to be delayed (Lewis 128). The shuttle launch was carried out on April 12, or Palm Sunday, 1981 (Lewis 128). The Columbia successfully landed at Kennedy Space Center on April 14, 1981, after two days and six hours in space (Dunbar “STS-1” 1).
Four other flights were conducted to test the combination again, which proved that it could be used to go into space. STS-5 was the first operational shuttle mission for the Columbia and the shuttle program itself (Dunbar “STS-5” 1). The objective of STS-5 was to send two satellites into orbit and to conduct a spacewalk from the Columbia (Dunbar “STS-5” 1). At the same time, another space shuttle in NASA’s fleet, the Challenger, was being prepared for its first flight in 1983 (Lewis 190). The two satellites, TELESAT Canada’s ANIK C-3 and Satellite Business Systems’ SitS-C were successfully launched into orbit forty-five minutes after the shuttle took off (Lewis 191). The first scheduled spacewalk for NASA’s shuttle program, however, was canceled because of flaws in the space suit (“STS-5” 1).
A notable shuttle mission completed by Columbia was STS-9, also called Spacelab, and was launched in November 1983. This science laboratory was installed in the Columbia’s cargo bay, where astronauts conducted various experiments for subjects like astronomy or biology (“Space Shuttle” 1). One of these astronauts, Dr. Ulf Merbold of Germany, flew on this mission as the first European Space Agency astronaut. Spacelab also flew in all of the other shuttles in NASA’s fleet, but conducted its sixteenth and final mission aboard the Columbia in 1998 (“Space Shuttle” 1).
Another notable mission would be STS-50, launched in June 1992 (“STS-50” 1). The mission was mainly focused on an extension of Spacelab, the United States Microgravity Laboratory-One, or USML-1, which was used to advance microgravity research by conducting experiments in the Columbia’s cargo bay. Experiments conducted include Protein Crystal Growth (PCG), Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS), Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project (EDOMP), and Astroculture-1 (ASC) (“STS-50” 1). This mission was also the first extended duration orbiter flight and the longest shuttle mission to date as of 1992. Because of this, the mission provided new information on the effects of long-term stays in space by humans (“STS-50” 1).
In 1995, another mission was conducted involving the United States Microgravity Laboratory, this time called STS-73 (“STS-73” 1). Experiments from the first USML mission were done again to verify existing theories or to create new ones. Additional research was done in five different branches: fluid physics, materials science, combustion science, commercial space processing, and biotechnology (Dunbar “STS-73” 1). Astronauts were able...