Photo: First Shuttle Launch
The Space Shuttle Columbia, pictured on April 12, 1981, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The shuttle was humankind’s first re-usable spacecraft. The orbiter would launch like a rocket and land like a plane. The two solid rocket boosters that helped push them into space would also be re-used, after being recovered in the ocean. Only the massive external fuel tank would burn up as it fell back to Earth. It was all known as the Space Transportation System.