Columbia Shuttle Mission

By: Hillary Bellah


On January 16th, 2003, at 10:39 a.m. EST Columbia lifted off, being the first shuttle mission of the year. It carried seven crew members on a marathon international scientific research flight. Landing was planned for February 1st after a 16-day mission, but Columbia and the crew were lost during reentry over East Texas at about 9:00 a.m.

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Crew Photo

The picture above shows crew photo with Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Payload Specialist IIan Ramon. Image Credit:

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Right Before Launch Photo

The picture above shows the seven crew members of the columbia shuttle mission on January 16th, 2003

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Re-entry Disaster

The picture above is a picture of Columbia during re-entry when some thermal protection damage caused it to disintegrate during reentry on February 1st, 2003, at about 9:00 a.m.

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How the Re-entry Disaster Happened

Columbia’s accident during re-entry was caused by some damage that happened during launch when a piece of foam the size of a small brief case broke off from the space shuttle external tank under aerodynamic (the position that reduces the drag from air moving past) forces of launch. The debris hit the top edge of the left wing, that damaged the shuttles thermal protection system.

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster
STS-107 Columbia Debris Strike and Foam Strike Tests