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In Photos: Highlights of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program

A photographic timeline of major events in the U.S. Space Shuttle program.

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January 1972: President Richard M. Nixon and Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA Administrator in San Clemente, California. The President announced that day the United States should proceed at once with shuttle development. (Image: NASA)
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January 1972: President Richard M. Nixon and Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA Administrator in San Clemente, California. The President announced that day the United States should proceed at once with shuttle development. (Image: NASA)

April 12 1981: Shuttle Columbia carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an Earth orbital mission scheduled to last 54 hours, ending with landing at Edwards Air force Base in California. (Image: NASA)
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April 12 1981: Shuttle Columbia carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an Earth orbital mission scheduled to last 54 hours, ending with landing at Edwards Air force Base in California. (Image: NASA)

June 18-24, 1983: Astronaut Sally K. Ride, the first American woman to orbit Earth. This Challenger mission deployed two communications satellites, one for Canada and one for Indonesia. (Image: NASA)
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June 18-24, 1983: Astronaut Sally K. Ride, the first American woman to orbit Earth. This Challenger mission deployed two communications satellites, one for Canada and one for Indonesia. (Image: NASA)

August 30 - September 5, 1983: The first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford, joins the crew for Challenger’s third mission. This shuttle carried out the program’s first night launch and night landing. In this photo, Bluford is restrained by a har
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August 30 - September 5, 1983: The first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford, joins the crew for Challenger’s third mission. This shuttle carried out the program’s first night launch and night landing. In this photo, Bluford is restrained by a har

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