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

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National Press Interviews Prime Crew Astronauts

From the Rockwell News - March 18, 1981
Rockwell International, Space Operations
John Young and Bob Crippen, the STS-1 prime crew, discussed their thoughts on the first Space Shuttle mission with members of the national and international press at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Tex., on March 9.

Crippen, pilot of STS-1, told the gathering of about 60 media representatives that "John and I have the dubious honor of being the crew trained the longest for any single flight. "

Both crew members were quick to praise the systems aboard the Rockwell-built Orbiter Columbia during the one-hour press conference. They began the session by commenting on a 9-minute film, a collection of sequences of the two in the Shuttle Mission Simulator, egress training on Launch Pad 39-A, the Shuttle Training Aircraft, the underwater training facility and the one-G trainer.

The crew, obviously in high spirits and ready to fly, had the press chuckling as they shared some of the lighter moments of their training which began more than two years ago when they were appointed as the first Shuttle crew. They fielded more than 30 questions from media reps who listened to the conference at NASA centers in Washington, D.C., Florida, Alabama and California.

Young, a veteran Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and rookie astronaut Crippen, described their mission as a very interesting one, one which is designed to accomplish about 130 of the 170 test objectives of the orbital flight test program (STS 1-4).

Crippen, in response to a newsman's query, said the extended training time has given the opportunity to address and train for all contingency problems. "We are well prepared to handle anything and the extended time has given us that capability," Crippen told the press.

Young heralded the Space Shuttle program as important to the future of the United States. He said for the last 10 years he has given this a great deal of thought of how important the Shuttle is to the U.S. "It (Shuttle) will revolutionize the way we do business on earth. It will improve measurably the defensive capability of the country. It will help develop science and technology.

"I believe the Space Shuttle, when we get it operational, will do in 5 to 10 years what it would take us 20 to 30 years to do otherwise in science, technology and development in space, that we couldn't do if we did not have the Space Shuttle. I believe we will do all those things and the sooner we do those things, the better off this country is going to be," Young said.

Both astronauts said if they get up and down safely, they would consider their mission a success. However, they advised the media that there is a possibility the mission could be shortened from the planned 54.5-hour flight time due to minor technical problems.

Young, answering a reporter's question on how he felt about flying a spacecraft which had not been flown unmanned, said, "I'm very confident the approach we are taking on this mission, because of the interface the human being has with this vehicle, is the right way to go." It would cost more money, and time to go unmanned and would not be as safe, Young said.

To repeated questions on the Thermal Protection System, Young and Crippen stated utmost confidence in the system. Crippen said he has the utmost confidence and as such, an EVA for tile inspection and repair has been put aside by NASA.

Young expressed his confidence in stronger terms saying that tiles aboard Columbia are two to three times stronger than required. The strength of the tiles is four to five times higher than the anticipated dynamic pressure expected during the first flight.

The crew concluded they are ready to fly and are both looking forward to early April, the planned launch of STS-1.

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