• U.S.

24 Years Ago In Time

1 minute read
DEPARTMENT

The technical problems that have grounded the SPACE SHUTTLE were foreshadowed when TIME did a cover story before the first shuttle launch.

A monument to Murphy’s Law, the great white Batmobile that will be piloted by Astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen is already two years behind its timetable and $3.6 billion over budget. Only a year ago workmen had diagnosed the ship’s ailment as “smallpox,” a reference to the holes left in its outer shell when heat-dissipating tiles became unglued. At one time or another, the entire project became unglued. Perhaps it was prophetic that the task force proposing the space shuttle back in 1969 was headed by Vice President Spiro Agnew. In any case, Columbia offers in its fashion a symbol not only of the Reagan Administration but of the U.S. as it rolls into the ’80s–way behind schedule, well over budget, its hopes, as ever, riding on machines … Unlike its predecessors, Columbia is not a one-shot deal. It represents the long haul, and it will be responsible for settling the territory. –TIME, Jan. 12, 1981

Read the entire article at time.com/years

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com