Astronomy Image of the Day
February 1st, 2013
This image was taken by astronaut John Young (who famously said “Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world; knowing they’re going to light the bottom–and doesn't get a little worried–does not fully understand the situation.”) On-board NASA's Little Training Aircraft on one of the first voyages of the Columbia Space Shuttle, which launched from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 12th of 1981.
This launch marked the very first time that a reusable orbital spacecraft ever descended into space, came back to Earth and proceeded to return to space again later. It also marked the second mission of the doomed Columbia space-shuttle, which disintegrated during re-entry in Earth's atmosphere exactly ten year ago to the day.
Overall, this particular mission of Columbia lasted over the course of 2 days, 6 hours, 13 minutes and 3 seconds. During which, it made approximately 37 orbits around Earth.
For more information about STS-2:
For a larger version of this image, see here:
Here's an image of Luna, taken by the crew during the final Columbia mission in 03:
Ever wonder what a shuttle (in this case, Atlantis) launch looks like from an air-plane?
Image Credit: NASA