Space History: Third Space Shuttle Qualification Flight

Thirty years ago today — March 22, 1982 — the Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on the third “shakedown” flight of the shuttle program.

(STS-3 landing at White Sands, New Mexico. NASA image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Astronauts Jack R. Lousma and C. Gordon Fullerton crewed Columbia during the STS-3 mission. They checked out the shuttle’s systems and documented problems ranging from lost communication links to toilet malfunctions, from space sickness to sleep cycles interrupted by unexplained static.

The shuttle was scheduled to land at Edwards AFB, but the dry lake bed was actually too wet to accomodate a landing. High winds at the back-up landing site at White Sands, New Mexico, forced a one-day mission extension. Columbia landed there on March 30th — the only time a shuttle ever landed at White Sands.

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0 Responses to Space History: Third Space Shuttle Qualification Flight

  1. Gray Rinehart says:

    I bet that was cool! I always enjoyed the times I could go out to the test areas — active and abandoned — at the Rocket Lab.


  2. Conan says:

    One of the cool things about being Det/CC at WSMR was being able to wander around all the historical sites on the range like Trinity Site and the shuttle landing strip. It was still technically the third option when I was there, but we knew it would really take some unique circumstance to have a landing there any more.