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Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102)

Space Shuttle Columbia  (OV-102)Space Shuttle Columbia

Space Shuttle Columbia was the first Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet to fly in space. Columbia's first launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being tragically lost during re-entry on February 1, 2003. All seven crew members were lost on Mission STS-107. Following an independent investigation into the cause of this tragedy, NASA decided to retire the Shuttle orbiter fleet in 2010.

The NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation for Columbia was: OV-102.The first flight of Columbia, STS-1, was commanded by John Young, a Gemini and Apollo veteran who was the ninth person to walk on the Moon in 1972, and piloted by Robert Crippen, a rookie astronaut originally selected to fly on the military's Manned Orbital Laboratory spacecraft. Columbia was successfully launched on April 12,1981 and returned on April 14, 1981, after orbiting the Earth 36 times, landing on the dry lake bed runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Columbia was destroyed at about 9:00 EST on February 1, 2003 while re-entering the atmosphere after a 16-day scientific mission. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board determined that a hole was punctured in the leading edge on one of Columbia's wings. The hole had formed when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank peeled off during the launch 16 days earlier and struck the shuttle's wing. During the intense heat of re-entry, hot gases penetrated the interior of the wing, destroying the support structure and causing the rest of the shuttle to break apart.

The crew of Space Shuttle Columbia Flight STS-107 consisted of 7 astronauts:

  • Commander: Rick D. Husband, a U.S. Air Force colonel and mechanical engineer
  • Pilot: William C. McCool, a U.S. Navy commander
  • Payload Commander: Michael P. Anderson, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel
  • Payload Specialist: Ilan Ramon, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force and the first Israeli astronaut.
  • Mission Specialist: Kalpana Chawla, an Indian-born aerospace engineer on her second space mission.
  • Mission Specialist: David M. Brown, a U.S. Navy captain trained as an aviator and flight surgeon.
  • Mission Specialist: Laurel Clark, a U.S. Navy captain and flight surgeon. Clark worked on a number of biological experiments.

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Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102)