This Day in History
Crippen and Young

Crippen and Young on the First Flight of the Space Shuttle
April 12, 1981

Robert L. Crippen was pilot for the Space Shuttle Columbia’s first flight into space on April 12, 1981. Although the Shuttle flight was Crippen’s first space flight, he had logged more than 400 hours of flying time as a Navy pilot and astronaut. A graduate of the University of Texas in aerospace engineering, Crippen entered the Navy and was a carrier pilot. He completed the Air Force’s Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and remained as an instructor until selected for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program in 1966. He transferred to the NASA Astronaut Office in 1969 and was a crew member of the Skylab Medical Experiments Altitude Test - a 56-day simulation of the Skylab mission. He was a member of the support crew for Skylab 2, 3 and 4.

John W. Young was commander for the Columbia’s first flight into space. A veteran of five space flights, Young had logged 587 hours and 53 minutes in space on the Gemini 3 and 10 missions, the Apollo 10 and 16 flights and his latest journey aboard Columbia. A graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering, Young entered the Navy and, after a year of destroyer duty, was accepted and completed flight training. He is a graduate of the Navy’s Test Pilot School and was stationed at the Naval Air Test Center for three years prior to entering the Astronaut Corps in 1962. He first flew on Gemini 3 in March 1965 and commanded Gemini 10 for three days in Earth orbit in 1966. Young was lunar module pilot on the Apollo 10 moon landing rehearsal in lunar orbit in 1969 and commanded the Apollo 16 mission that landed on the moon’s highlands in 1972. Young was assigned responsibility for the Space Shuttle branch of the Astronaut Office in 1973 and was named Chief of the Astronaut Office in 1975.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.