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Challenger Center hosts first space shuttle pilot

April 12th is an important day in the history of space exploration. On this day in 1961, the Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to venture into space. It is also the day the United States launched the first Space Shuttle, Columbia, a new space transportation system (STS). To honor the historical importance of the achievements made in space exploration, Challenger Center joins in the celebration of “Yuri’s Night” and announced a series of interviews with individuals who have dedicated their lives towards inspiring, exploring and learning. The Center begins this series with Robert L. Crippen, Columbia’s first pilot.

The goal of these interviews is to introduce individuals who have had a great impact in the world of exploration, and who, through their life stories are excellent role models for children.  Astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young completed the first Space Shuttle mission STS-1 in 1981. It was the first orbital test flight of the Shuttle Columbia, the first true manned spaceship. Robert L. Crippen commanded three more shuttle missions and logged over 565 hours in space, orbited the earth 374 times and traveled over 9.4 million miles.

Challenger Center’s Founding Chairman, Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger 51-L Commander Dick Scobee had the privilege to interview Mr. Crippen. Dr. Rodgers encourages students of all ages, particularly middle school students, to listen to this and future podcasts. She firmly believes that students can benefit from these influential individuals’ real life lessons, which embody the very qualities of trust, responsibility, respect, compassion, equality, and honor that resemble the characteristics to which young children should aspire.

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