40 Years Ago: Space Shuttle Columbia Rolls Out to Launch Pad 39A

By  //  December 29, 2020

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December 29, 2020

On this day, 40 years ago, thousands of visitors and 200 reporters gathered at Kennedy Space Center to view the rollout of Space Shuttle Columbia. (NASA Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – On this day, 40 years ago, thousands of visitors and 200 reporters gathered at Kennedy Space Center to view the rollout of Space Shuttle Columbia.

The Director of the Kennedy Space Center, Richard “Dick” Smith, and STS-1’s prime crew, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, addressed the onlookers, expressing what a great event the rollout represented for the United States.

Safely transporting the large shuttle required a machine built for the tremendous task, the Mobile Transporter, also known as the crawler.

Columbia left the Vehicle Assembly Building abroad the crawler at 8am, taking until the afternoon to successfully complete its 3.5 mile (5.6 km) journey to the seaside Launch Pad 39A.

After being secured to the Launch Pad, Columbia was ready for further testing. 8 days later, the crew received a demonstration of the emergency escape system should they need to evacuate from the launch tower.

Crippen and Young are seen below trying out the escape baskets.

In February, the final certification of shuttle’s engines allowed Columbia’s launch date to be narrowed down.

And on April 12th, 1981, Columbia launched on its inaugural 2-day mission, the first crewed American space flight since 1975.

The Director of the Kennedy Space Center, Richard “Dick” Smith, and STS-1’s prime crew, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, addressed the onlookers, expressing what a great event the rollout represented for the United States. (NASA Image)

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