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30 years of shuttle flights — so what's next?

It's a banner day for space exploration Tuesday, as the era of human spaceflight marks its 50th anniversary while NASA celebrates its own 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight. Full story

April 12, 1981: First shuttle launch

  From the archives: NBC's Jane Pauley, Robert Bazell and Roy Neal report on the first launch of the Space Shuttle, Columbia, from the Kennedy Space Center.      

Space Shuttle's 1st Pilot: Q&A With Former NASA Astronaut Bob Crippen

When John Young and Bob Crippen launched on the space shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, it was the dawn of a new era. NASA's shuttle program would go on to achieve great things, and suffer two terrible losses, over the course of its 30-year history. Full story

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Museum spotlighting Columbia disaster opens

Obama Honors Astronauts Lost in Space Exploration

Space disasters still have lessons to teach

NASA to commemorate three space tragedies

NASA: Shuttle wing ‘dings’ don't look serious

NASA reports new details of Columbia deaths

Columbia astronaut's diary goes on display

Video

  Former NASA chief: Shuttle a 'risky vehicle'

Feb. 1: The 2003 loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia set in motion major changes in U.S. space policy. Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin sits down with NBC's Tom Costello to discuss the transition.

  NASA report details Columbia’s final moments

Dec. 31: NASA has released new information about what the astronauts went through in their final moments on board the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

  NASA releases Columbia disaster details

Dec. 30: An exhaustive NASA review of the Shuttle Columbia disaster revealed troubling details that the agency hopes will improve equipment and protocols for future space crews. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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Related Photos

The Hubble telescope floats in space.
The Hubble telescope floats in space.

The Hubble Space Telescope floats against the background of Earth after a week of repair and upgrade by Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts in 2002.