THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Space Shuttle Columbia Lifts Off From NASA’s Kennedy Space Center 41 Years Ago

By  //  March 22, 2023

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March 22, 1982

ABOVE VIDEO: STS-3 was launched from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on March 22nd 1982.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off for the third shuttle test flight on March 22 in 1982 for STS-3 from Kennedy Space Center.

Eight days later, it became the only shuttle to land at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

On board was a crew of two: Commander Jack Lousma (right) had previously spent 59 days in space in 1973 with Skylab-3, but C. Gordon Fullerton (left), who had served on the support crew for Apollo missions 14 through 17, was making his first space flight.

Commander Jack R. Lousma previously flew as pilot of the second Skylab crew (Skylab 3), staying aboard the space station for 59 days from July to September 1973. Lousma had previously been selected in 1978 as Pilot for STS-2, which was then scheduled as a Skylab reboost mission. When delays in the Shuttle’s development prevented Columbia from being launched in time to rendezvous with Skylab in 1979, STS-2 Commander Fred W. Haise Jr. retired from NASA and Lousma was then moved up as Commander of STS-3.[2] Lousma also served on the support crews for Apollo 9, 10 and 13; he was the CAPCOM during the time of the latter mission’s near-disastrous accident. He was also selected as backup Docking Module Pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) in 1975.

Fullerton was a rookie who transferred to NASA in 1969 after the cancelation of the U.S. Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. Fullerton had previous experience with the Shuttle as he had flown the shuttle Enterprise as Pilot alongside Haise during the Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) program in 1977. He also served as part of the support crew for Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17.

Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off for the third shuttle test flight on March 22 in 1982 for STS-3 from Kennedy Space Center. (NASA Image)