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OV-102 (Columbia)
April 12-14, 1981

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Astronauts Thank Thousands Who Built Spacecraft

From the Rockwell News - May 28, 1981
Rockwell International, Space Operations
Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen returned to Downey and Palmdale earlier this month, to thank the thousands of Rockwell employees who built their spaceship so well and to recount the perfect mission and extraordinary flying ability of the Columbia.

They were met with warm weather and an even warmer response from thousands of enthusiastic Rockwell employees, many of whom had labored years to see STS-1 concluded so successfully. It is estimated that 5000-6000 well-wishers turned out at the Downey facility and that another 1700-2000 visited the Palmdale welcome home ceremony.


The performance of the Columbia during its first flight couldn't have been better, and John Young, commander of the STS-1 mission made his feelings known about that performance upon first taking the podium.

"It was a perfect flight," he said. "Perfect!" The Thermal Protection System took less heat than was forecast, Young said, the spacecraft used less power than planned, and the fuel cells worked even better than everybody thought they would.


Young spoke of the tremendous pride and enthusiasm he had seen all across America for the Columbia and its first flight and he said, "You all have to be doubly proud of it for doing so much to make that possible. And I thank you."


Astronaut pilot Robert Crippen was quick to praise the families involved with getting the Columbia airborne. "Most of us here have been working on it for quite a few years," he said, "and put a lot of our heart and soul into it -- that means a lot of late hours at night, it means working on weekends, and it means bringing work home sometimes -- and that's pretty hard to take for the families sometimes."


"You put a lot into it and you deserve as much congratulations as the people who actually did the design and the work. We really appreciate that," Crippen said.


The astronauts comments were received with marked enthusiasm as the talks were punctuated throughout with applause and warm laughter. Afterwards, Crippen and Young held an informal press conference and signed their names in wet cement before saying goodbye to their Rockwell hosts.


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