On April 12, 1981, the first space shuttle, Columbia, lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its maiden flight into space. The shuttle was powered by three liquid-fueled engines and a pair of giant strap-on, solid-fuel boosters. The basic principle that makes it work is exactly the same as that behind a simple firework rocket or a balloon that zooms across the room when you let go of its neck. It is the principle of action and reaction.

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