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September 17, 1976 - NASA Introduces 'The Space Shuttle'

Thursday, September 17th 2020, 5:00 am - On Sept. 17, 1976, NASA publicly unveiled its first space shuttle, the Enterprise, in Palmdale, Calif. Development of the aircraft-like spacecraft cost almost US$10 billion and took nearly a decade to complete.

NASA In 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series. Photo: NASA

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On Sept. 17, 1976, NASA publicly unveiled its first space shuttle, the Enterprise, during a ceremony in Palmdale, Calif. Development of the aircraft-like spacecraft cost almost US$10 billion and took nearly a decade to complete.

In 1977, the Enterprise became the first space shuttle to fly freely when it was lifted to a height of 25,000 feet by a Boeing 747 airplane and then released, gliding back to Edwards Air Force Base on its own accord.

Regular flights of the space shuttle began on April 12, 1981, with the launching of Columbia from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth.

On Jan. 28, 1986, NASA and the space shuttle program suffered a major setback when the Challenger exploded 74 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven people aboard.

On today's podcast, Chris Mei talks about NASA'S unveiling of its first space shuttle, its historic missions afterwards and the tragic accidents that dealt significant blows to the space program.

"This Day In Weather History” is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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