STS-6: Challenger’s first flight

ChallengerSpace Shuttle Challenger lifts off into orbit for the first time, after extensive technical and mechanical issues keep the shuttle on the pad well past its original January launch date. The payload for this flight is NASA’s own TDRS (Tracking & Data Relay Satellite), designed to keep the shuttle in constant contact with ground controllers even if its orbit takes it out of direct communications. The five-day flight also sees the first spacewalk of the shuttle program. Challenger’s crew consists of Commander Paul Weitz, Pilot Karol Bobko, and mission specialists Donald Peterson and Story Musgrave.