This Day In History: January 5

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Richard Nixon signs a bill authorizing $5.5 million in funding to develop a space shuttle. The space shuttle represented a giant leap forward in the technology of space travel. Designed to function more like a cost-efficient “reusable” airplane than a one-use-only rocket-launched capsules, the shuttle afforded NASA pilots and scientists more time in space with which to conduct space-related research. NASA launched Columbia, the first space shuttle, in 1981.