Following nearly a decade of studies and development, the Space Shuttle is beginning its flight test phase. This paper reviews the status of the program, and preparations of the space vehicle and facilities for flight. The launch preparations, including conduct of the Mission Verification Test, which comprises a Flight Readiness Firing prior to the actual launch, is discussed. This simulation was designed to test the readiness of the complete organization and all ground and flight equipment for commitment to the first manned orbital flight. The plan of the orbital flight program is outlined indicating how each succeeding flight is made more complex and severe to incrementally test the Space Shuttle. Completion of this four flight program readies the Space Shuttle for operations in late 1982. Payload performance to orbit is increased as the program progresses through the development flights and on into operations.