Today In History Spotlights Feb. 18, 1977, Space Shuttle “Enterprise” Takes Off

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The Space Shuttle takes off on its maiden flight. The “Enterprise,” aka Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-101, was mounted on a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The first free flight took place on August 12, 1977 after it construction completed on September 17, 1976.

It was the first orbiter of the Space Shuttle system. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform atmospheric test flights after being launched from a modified Boeing 747. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield. As a result, it was not capable of spaceflight.

What Happened On This Day – February 18

  • 1978 Hawaii hosts the first Ironman Triathlon. Contestants have to swim 2.4 miles (3.86 km), bike 112 miles (180.25 km) and complete a marathon run measuring 26.2 miles (42.2 km).
  • 1954 The first Church of Scientology is established. Despite many controversies, Scientology has gained thousands of members since its inception.
  • 1943 The Gestapo arrests German resistance fighter Sophie Scholl and other White Rose activists21-year-old student Scholl and her fellow campaigners were executed for having distributed flyers criticizing the Nazi regime.
  • 1930 Pluto is discovered. Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet when sifting through photographs taken a month earlier.

Births On This Day – February 18

  • 1974 Yevgeny Kafelnikov – Russian tennis player
  • 1967 Roberto Baggio – Italian footballer
  • 1954 John Travolta – American actor, singer, producer
  • 1933 Yoko Ono – Japanese/American singer-songwriter
  • 1838 Ernst Mach – Austrian physicist

Deaths On This Day – February 18

  • 1967 J. Robert Oppenheimer – American physicist
  • 1906 John Batterson Stetson – American businessman, founded the John B. Stetson Company
  • 1564 Michelangelo – Italian painter, sculptor
  • 1546 Martin Luther – German monk, priest, leader of the Protestant Reformation
  • 1294 Kublai Khan – Mongolian Emperor

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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