Check the Gauge
Columbia's first commander was pointing out that the Shuttle carries a planned reserve of 6, 000 to 7, 000 pounds of propellant for its main engines at launch.
"One thing you don't want to do," the veteran astronaut observed, "is run out of gas on your way to orbit."
April 12, 1981: As the Shuttle carrying Young and Crippen rose above the launch pad, it spewed a fiery exhaust plume fully 700 feet long and 200 feet wide. But the spacemen never saw it.
"Thank goodness," quipped Crippen "for no rear-view mirror."
What'd He Say?
Engle and Truly seemed a highly compatible crew. But after their flight, Engle confessed there had been a problem. "I'm from Kansas and Dick is from southern Mississippi, " said Engle. "It took me two and a half years just to learn the language."
Shuttle project officials were not always candid about their early setbacks. One problem arose with the testing of new booster-rocket parachutes in drops from B-52 over the desert. The chutes failed, shredding as they plunged with a heavy attached test article and crashed to the desert floor. Already knowing the answer, a reporter asked if the test item was destroyed.
"Well," hedged the project engineer, "let's just say it is largely unreusable."
Is There a Doctorů?
When Columbia finally arrived at America's spaceport in Florida after the cross-country flight, it was again missing many of its tiles, giving its skin a patchy, scabrous look.
"Daddy," cried a child on hand for the Shuttle's arrival, "that airplane on top is sick!"