NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has a colorfully decorated chart that shows milestones of the space shuttle: August, 1972 -- NASA gets approval to proceed with the shuttle project.Skip to next paragraph
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February, 1977 -- First flight of the shuttle riding piggyback on a jet transport plane.
August, 1977 -- First approach and landing test by the shuttle craft "Enterprise." March, 1981 -- First launch of a shuttle, the "Columbia." There will be 12 flights by Columbia, the fifth one being the end of testing, after which the shuttle becomes operational.
September, 1982 -- Space shuttle "Challenger" to be launched.
January, 1984 -- "Discovery" launch.
October, 1984 -- "Atlantis" launch, likely from new shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.