- guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 February 2011 00.01 GMT
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On the 12 April 1981, Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral. It was the first shuttle to go into space.
Thirty years on, the shuttle fleet is finally being taken out of service. The three remaining shuttles - Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour - each have one mission left.
At the time of recording, Nasa has scheduled STS-133 for 24 February: Discovery is destined for the international space station.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Dr Jeffrey Hoffman flew five times on the shuttle - he was the first astronaut to log more than a thousand hours of flight time on board and travelled more than 20 million miles in space.
But as this era of spaceflight comes to a close, what is the shuttle's legacy and what's next for human spaceflight?
We spoke to Jeff from his new workplace, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.
He has presented a new documentary on the BBC World Service, The Last Chance to Fly the Space Shuttle.
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