Photos: Space shuttle launches 25 years ago

Photos: Space shuttle launches 25 years ago

Summary: On April 12, 1981, an untested space shuttle Columbia lifted off and began a new era of space exploration.

TOPICS: Nasa / Space

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  • new cockpit

    First used for a 2000 mission, a rebuilt glass cockpit, complete with 11 full-color flat-panel screens, replaced the old dials and gizmos. The new LCD displays offer many advantages over the older devices, including better viewing angles, better backup capabilities and less power consumption.

  • Hubble repairs

    Probably the most spectacular missions of the space shuttle program involved repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched into orbit in 1990, the Hubble was a bust due to a mirror that was out of focus.

    A space shuttle rescue team repaired the mirror in 1993 and three other shuttle missions have provided maintenance and repairs. Note the astronauts hanging from the shuttle's arm in this 1999 mission. At the time, it was feared that if the December 1999 repair mission had been delayed, it might have been derailed by the Y2K bug.

    The Hubble is currently in need of further repairs but funding for a new space shuttle repair mission looks bleak.

  • lost crew

    The shuttle program may be best known for its two disasters. In 1986, the shuttle Challenger exploded during its takeoff, and in 2003 the Columbia blew apart upon reentry. Both crews were killed. This photo of the 2003 Columbia crew was processed from film found in the shuttle wreckage.

Topic: Nasa / Space

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