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STS-3: Unique landing
Columbia's STS-3 mission is best remembered in the history books for its conclusion -- the first and so far only landing at the picturesque Northrup Strip at White Sands, New Mexico. In this post-flight presentation film, the crew describes the highlights of the March 1982 mission and shows some of the fun they had in orbit. The commander also tells how he accidentally "popped a wheelie" before bringing the nose gear down to the runway surface.

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STS-2: Columbia is a reusable spaceship
Seven months after the successful maiden voyage of space shuttle Columbia, astronauts Joe Engle and Richard Truly took the orbiter back into space on mission STS-2. The November 12, 1981 launch demonstrated that the space shuttle was the world's first reusable manned spacecraft. Although their mission would be cut short, Engle and Truly performed the first tests of the shuttle's Canadian-made robotic arm. The crew tells the story of the mission in this post-flight presentation.

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STS-1: America's first space shuttle mission
The space shuttle era was born on April 12, 1981 when astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen rode Columbia into Earth orbit from Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A. The two-day flight proved the shuttle could get into space as a rocket and return safely with a runway landing. Following the voyage of STS-1, the two astronauts narrated this film of the mission highlights and told some of their personal thoughts on the flight.

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Suit tossed overboard
The Expedition 12 crew tosses overboard an old Russian spacesuit loaded with ham radio gear during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. The eery view of the lifeless suit tumbling into the darkness of space was captured by station cameras.

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Progress report: NASA begins testing CLV concept
Posted: February 14, 2006

Testing is under way by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., to lay the foundation for developing the Crew Launch Vehicle, the agency's future launch vehicle system.

NASA's new astronaut capsule will be launched atop a single space shuttle solid rocket booster. Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates
Sixty-six wind tunnel tests were conducted on a 16.5-inch scale model of the vehicle. The tunnel is 48 inches long with a 14-inch by 14-inch cross section. Wind tunnel "flights" are used to assess new geometric configurations before designs are incorporated into space vehicles.

In the tube-like, tunnel structure, giant fans or high-pressure air generate artificial wind to flow over vehicles, engines, rockets or scale-model hardware, helping scientists determine flight performance characteristics of new concepts.

The first, two-week entry in the test series began in December and was performed at Marshall's Aerodynamic Research Facility. The facility is used for concept validation of space launch vehicles. Additional testing continues this month.

The initial test data are the foundation for more detailed testing this spring and summer. Bigger vehicle models will be used in larger wind tunnel facilities at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

The scale model for the Marshall tests included the crew capsule, service module and escape tower. The model simulated the full Crew Launch Vehicle take off load. NASA's Constellation Program is developing both crew and launch vehicles as it follows NASA's Vision for Space Exploration by returning humans to the moon and preparing for voyages to Mars and beyond.

Engineers also conducted flow visualization tests. The imaging is used to identify shock waves and component expansions similar to those experienced during supersonic flight. The test series was intended to provide the first actual crew launch vehicle configuration data for guidance, navigation and control systems analysis. Testing was performed over a Mach .5 to 4.96 range.