The first Space Shuttle, name Columbia, took off into space on April 12, 1981. The Space Shuttle takes off from a launch pad vertically, sitting on its tail, just like a rocket. Attached to the Space Shuttle are two booster rockets, and a large fuel tank. These help propel the Space Shuttle into space. Within minutes of the launch, the booster rockets are exhausted and are ejected. Parachutes open from the booster rockets and slowly lower them into the Ocean. There they are picked up by a waiting ship. This leaves the shuttle and the fuel tank. At about 75 miles above the Earth, the external fuel tank is now empty and separates. It falls back to Earth and lands in the India Ocean. Two small rockets now ignite to steer the shuttle in space.