A spaceship named Enterprise had its first free flight as part of testing for the Space Shuttle on this day in history.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise was used for a series of Approach & Landing tests to give astronauts and NASA researchers a chance to evaluate how the ship called the “flying brick” would glide to a landing upon returning from space. The first free flight would take place on August 12th, 1977.
The Enterprise was taken into the skies attached to a specially-modified Boeing 747 jet. It then detached from the jet. The first flight had a nosecone covering where the engines would be and would land on a lakebed instead of a normal runway.
Fred Haise Jr. and C. Gordon Fullerton were the crew of the first flight. The orbiter achieved speeds of over 300 hours on a successful mission.
Four more free flights would take place, before the shuttle Columbia became the first shuttle to fly into space years later.