Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

April 11, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.
Liftoff of Space Shuttle Columbia
Credit: STS-1, NASA

Explanation: On April 12, 1981, space flight entered a new era with the first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia. NASA's Space Shuttles land like a normal airplane, 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.

Tomorrow's picture: A Shy Galaxy

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.