The Crew & Mission

(S79-31775 - 07 may 1979) -- Offical portrait of STS-1 crew members Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young posing in ejection escape suits (EES) with small model of space shuttle.

Mission: First Shuttle Mission/Shuttle Systems Test Flight
Space Shuttle: Columbia
Launch Pad: 39A
Launched: April 12, 1981 at 7:00:03 a.m. EST
Launch Weight: 219,258 pounds
Landing Site: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Landing: April 14, 1981 at 10:20:57 a.m. PST
Runway: 23
Rollout Distance: 8,993 feet
Rollout Time: 60 seconds
Revolution: 37
Mission Duration: 2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, and 53 seconds
Returned to KSC: April 28, 1981
Orbit Altitude: 166 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 40.3 degrees
Miles Traveled: 1.074 million

STS-1 Artwork

This is the official insignia for NASA's first flight of the space transportation system's (STS) Columbia, the first Space Shuttle orbital flight test (STS-1). The art work was done by artist Robert McCall.

Young and his crewmate sought the inspiration and assistance of NASA's and contractors' artists, as well as his first wife, Barbara. For the shuttle's first mission patch. Robert McCall, a noted space artist was working at Johnson Space Center in 1979 when Young approached him.

"I was painting an mural in Building 2," described McCall to collectSPACE when I was asked by John Young to design the STS-1 mission emblem and eagerly consented to do that." As soon as he "knew the mission," McCall began putting pencil to paper, and paper and paper.

"There were many, many ideas,” McCall said. “And when I say many, maybe 25 or 30." McCall however, wasn't the only one with ideas.

"John Young pretty much designed the emblem," said McCall. "That is, he gave me a rough pencil outline of some of the elements that he thought should be part of it and then I made sketches including those elements that were important to him and Bob Crippen."

"Then I made a very comprehensive sketch that both John and Bob approved of and then I proceeded to make a painting." McCall's (and Young's) design was "simple and direct".

"The sphere of the Earth is in the background and overlaying that sphere is a rough triangle. At its apex is the shuttle, rising and then tanks are firing. There is another rough triangle of brilliant color from yellow to red, symbolizing the blast of the engines. Within that red is the word 'Columbia' and then below that 'Young' and 'Crippen', the crew members. There is an orbital disc, or an orbital oval that surrounds the Earth in the background and a shuttle right immediately beneath the launching Space Shuttle, a small shuttle, showing the orbit of that shuttle around the Earth," described McCall. "I think it is one of the better mission emblems that I have designed."

And what did Young think of McCall's design? Despite the artist giving credit to the astronaut, Young disagreed. "Bob McCall designed the patch. He's a great fellow. He really does good work on the patches," Young said in an interview with collectSPACE.

For McCall, the privilege was all his. "It was an important time in my life. I've had a lot of what I regard as important times, but this was significant and special," said McCall.

The preceding was part two of a special three-part collectSPACE series celebrating the 25th anniversary of STS-1. Copyright 2006

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