Tuesday marks 35th anniversary of shuttle program maiden space launch

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Tuesday marks the 35th anniversary of the maiden space shuttle launch.

A new era in space exploration began on April 12, 1981 with the launch of Columbia from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

More than a hundred space shuttle missions would follow, until the program officially retired with the launch of Atlantis in July of 2011.

But the talent was used for the shuttle program is still being put to good use.

Tim Fores, the core stage integration manager for SLS, said, “Some of the people involved back then, we use them as consultants for what we’re doing. Are we doing the right things? They got a lot right back then so we feel a connection with all the support that we get from the past, the past facilities, the past people.”

The main indoor test facility for the SLS rocket was also used to do static testing for the Apollo shuttle and International Space Station.



Jerry Hayes, strutting his stuff in front of a shuttle.

Here’s a piece of history that’s hanging on the wall here at the WHNT News 19 newsroom. We snapped a picture of this picture of Jerry Hayes  in front of a shuttle that actually never went into space. This is in 1979, and Jerry was reporting on shuttle Enterprise as it was leaving Redstone Arsenal Airfield. It was here for vibration testing for the shuttle program.

641032main_enterprise-lifttest12x16_946-710And here’s a picture of what that testing looked like at Marshall Space Flight Center. The purpose of the vibrations tests was to verify that the space shuttle performed its launch configuration as predicted.

Further proof that a lot of space history lives right here in the rocket city!