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Space Shuttle Enterprise ALT Flights

Before Space Shuttle orbiters Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew in space, OV-101, better known as Enterprise, was involved in the important Approach and Landing Test (ALT) flights at Edwards AFB, CA. Enterprise, and its Boeing 747 mothership, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), made a total of 13 flights together in the ALT Program in 1977. The first five joined flights, called captive flights, took place with OV-101 Enterprise unmanned to check out the SCA's handling and control with the 150,000 pound Enterprise mounted on top. After these 5 unmanned Captive flights, a series of three additional OV-101/SCA joined flights took place, but these three so-called Active Captive flights involved 2-man astronaut crews inside Enterprise.

Following the eight successful ALT Captive flights, Enterprise and the SCA were ready on August 12, 1977 for the first ALT free flight. Enterprise was released from the SCA and, piloted by Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton, flew on its own to a landing at EAFB. This first ALT free flight successfully duplicated the actual approach and landing phase of an orbiter returning from space. After the fifth and final ALT free flight, the next orbiter to land at Edwards AFB, less than four years later, was Space Shuttle orbiter Columbia on STS-1, completing the first Space Shuttle spaceflight.