The Columbia Disaster is one of the most tragic events in spaceflight history. On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia was reentering Earth's atmosphere after a two-week routine mission when it exploded, killing all seven astronauts aboard and scattering debris across multiple states. For example, the size of the cargo bay was increased to accommodate large military satellites. Congress kept the space program on a budgetary diet for years with the expectation that missions would continue to launch on time and under cost. Equinox kicks off autumn on Sept. 22, On This Day in Space: Sept. 22, 2006: Japan launches Hinode solar observatory, NASA still targeting moon's south pole for 2024 crew landing, Autumn's celestial sea: Catch these 'water' constellations in the night sky this fall, Last flight: STS-107 (Jan. 16, 2003 - Feb. 1, 2003). However, the shuttle and a seven-member crew were lost over Texas when Columbia burned up during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. The Space Shuttle Columbia (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-102) was the first space-rated orbiter in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. 1988. After landing, Columbia's nose pitched up unexpectedly due to a software problem, according to commander Jack Lousma's oral history with NASA; it looked as though the shuttle was bobbing on the runway. Columbia (OV-102), the first of NASA's orbiter fleet, was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in March 1979. In the aftermath NASA's shuttle timetable was disrupted, and Columbia was not flown again until 1989 on STS-28, after which it resumed normal service as part of the shuttle fleet. Meanwhile, some of the experiments from Columbia's last flight returned useful data. In its earliest days it participated in repairing and deploying satellites and telescopes, but as NASA's priorities changed to science, Columbia flew several productive science missions in the 1990s and 2000s. Limited research on the ISS was conducted by rotating two-person crews launched in Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The wing broke off, causing the rest of the shuttle to break-up, burn, and disperse. Columbia was destroyed over east Texas on its landing descent to Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 1, 2003, at 8:59 a.m. EST at the conclusion of a microgravity research mission, STS-107. send the Chandra X-Ray Observatory into space, several hours scanning the shuttle's bottom, survived re-entry and successfully reproduced, Challenger: Shuttle Disaster That Changed NASA, Space Shuttle: The First Reusable Spacecraft, Space Shuttle Launches New Era in Exploration, Where to See America's Greatest Spaceships, Pictures from space! From left (bottom row): Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick Husband, commander; Laurel Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. Columbia (OV-102), the first of NASA's orbiter fleet, was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in March 1979. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy, successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done until the air ran out? To get the best experience possible, please download a compatible browser. Its major components and the remains of the crew were recovered over the following month. I think the crew would rather not know. The next shuttle mission was undertaken by Challenger. Data from the vehicle showed rising temperatures within sections of the left wing as early as 8:52 am, although the crew knew of their situation for perhaps only a minute or so before vehicle breakup. Work resumed more seriously when the first landing on the moon was imminent, in 1969. Streaks of burning debris from the U.S. space shuttle orbiter. Coauthor of. 2001. Columbia flew 28 missions in its lifetime, logging more than 300 days in space. One of the first ships of the U.S. Navy to circumnavigate the globe was named Columbia. This would be Columbia's next-to-last mission in orbit, although nobody knew it at the time.