Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
August 6, 1995
Liftoff of Space Shuttle Columbia
Credit: NASA, Kennedy Space Center
Explanation: On April 12, 1981, space flight entered a new era with the first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia, shown above. NASA's Space Shuttles land like a normal plane, carry a heavy cargo, carry a large crew, make use of cheap solid fuel, and are reusable. Previous to this flight, no manned orbiting space ship had ever landed on a runway. Space Shuttles now are the flagships and the workhorses of NASA's space going rockets.
For more information about NASA's Space Shuttle missions, see the NASA Space Shuttle Launches page.
Tomorrow's picture: Night Launch of Endeavour