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REARVIEW MIRROR

“When we lifted off, the main thought going through my mind was, ‘Don’t let me screw up.’ A lot of folks had worked very hard to get us to that point, and I certainly didn’t want to be the one who somehow didn’t make it successful.” — COM M ANDER ROBERT CRIPPEN, PILOT OF STS-1

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vehicles instead of the shuttle, and that gave them all the ammunition they needed to shut down the shuttle out there.” After the cancelation of STS-62-A, Crippen never flew another space shuttle mission. A Naval aviator who went through the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base before being recruited for the MOL program, Crippen joined NASA in 1969. In addition to piloting the inaugural space shuttle orbital mission, he commanded three further shuttle flights before serving as director of the space shuttle program at NASA in Washington D.C. and then as director of Kennedy Space Center. Looking back across his distinguished tenure with manned space flight, he has only one regret. “If I have one disappointment in my flying career, it was that I never got to fly out of Vandenberg,” says Crippen, who was twice scheduled to launch from the facility, first with the MOL program and then on a space shuttle. “I really wanted to do that. “I think it was a mistake that the Air Force didn’t get to take advantage of the vehicle. I believe flying missions out of Vandenberg would have contributed a great deal.” 

PHOTO: COURTESY U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES

An overall view of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in launch position on the Space Launch Complex (SLC) #6, commonly known as “SLICK 6,” during the ready-to-launch checks to verify launch procedures. 

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Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

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