Space Program

Published: 1983
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Ex NASA Astronaut Sally Ride repsonds to participants questions while attending the West Coast Summit for the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in San Diego, California on August 11, 2006. (UPI Photo/Joseph Marino)

Jenny Cossola: For America's space program, 1983 was a year of achievement, a year which saw the nation's first woman astronaut launched into space. Correspondent Rob Navias was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on that historic occasion …

Unknown Speaker: "T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … we go for main engine start; we have main engine start, and ignition, and liftoff, liftoff of STS 7 and America's first woman astronaut, and the Shuttle has cleared the tower."

Rob Navias: "The launch in June of Sally Ride as America's first spacewoman came 20 years after the Soviets first placed a woman into orbit and was the unqualified highlight of an exciting but difficult year for the nation's space agency. Problems with main engines on America's second Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger delayed its maiden launch from January until April, and booster-rocket troubles left Challenger's first payload, a large tracking satellite, in a faulty orbit, causing the rest of the year's launches to be rescheduled.

"In August, America's first black astronaut Guy Bluford, when aloft on a flight that began with the first night launch and ended with the first night landing at Edwards Air Force Base.

"And in October, NASA celebrated its 25th anniversary, a celebration NASA Administrator James Beggs said was richly deserved …

Administrator James Beggs: "'It puts a bit of a halo around everything else we do in the … in the area of stretching ourselves further in -- not only in high technology, but in everything else we do.'"

Rob Navias: "The year ended with a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency on the Shuttle Columbia, using the science workshop Space Lab to conduct dozens of complex experiments by six astronauts and scientists.

"Rob Navias, Washington."