The first space shuttle, Enterprise, never made it to space, but it did make it to Stansted Airport.

On 5 June 1983, the shuttle touched down at the airport as part of a European tour that also took in Germany, France and Italy. Crowds of 200,000 people turned out to watch this historic event.

Although it flew several unaided atmospheric flights, and crossed the Atlantic atop a modified 747, STS Enterprise never flew into orbit as it was actually designed as a test vehicle to demonstrate that the spaceship could manoeuvre and land like a conventional aircraft.

B747 & Shuttle Enterprise Combo overflight 05-Jun-1983

It was named after the famous command of Captain James T. Kirk, following an enthusiastic campaign by Star Trek fans and is now on public display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

The controllers at Stansted Airport’s tower have unearthed some amazing photographs of this spectacular event, which we share with you here to mark its 31st anniversary.

B747 & Shuttle Enterprise Combo touchdown 05-Jun-1983


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Annoyed local

I was there when it arrived. That was when the airport was a focus of unusual and interesting activity and locals enjoyed the place. Now its a noisy monstrosity that is polluting the atmosphere and blighting peoples lives with noise. Best thing for it now is for a huge sink hole to swallow the place up for it never to be seen again.


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