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The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003

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Memorial marks 10-year anniversary of Columbia tragedy

A somber ceremony on the Space Coast on Saturday, as people remember the seven astronauts killed 10 years ago when space shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry.
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10th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony Planned for Columbia

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation is planning a public 10th anniversary remembrance ceremony for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex on Feb. 1.
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The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members.
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STS-107 Astronaut Crew Flight Deck Video During Space Shuttle Columbia's Failed Re-Entry

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This is video from the flight deck of space shuttle Columbia during its ill-fated re-entry on STS-107. The video was shot by a crew member using a handheld camcorder as the shuttle descended from orbit.

Jan. 16, 2003, at 10:39 a.m. EST, Columbia lifted off on time on the first shuttle mission of the year. It carried seven crew members, including the first Israeli astronaut, on a marathon international scientific research flight.

KSC landing was planned for Feb. 1 after a 16-day mission, but Columbia and crew were lost during reentry over East Texas at about 9 a.m. EST, 16 minutes prior to the scheduled touchdown at KSC. A seven-month investigation followed, including a four month search across Texas to recover debris. The search was headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La. Nearly 85,000 pieces of orbiter debris were shipped to KSC and housed in the Columbia Debris Hangar near the Shuttle Landing Facility. The KSC debris reconstruction team identified pieces as to location on the orbiter, and determined damaged areas. About 38 percent of the orbiter Columbia was eventually recovered.



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STS-107 was a space shuttle mission by NASA using the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched January 16, 2003.
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Piece of shuttle Columbia found in a dried out Texas lake eight years after tragic crash

A piece of debris from the doomed space shuttle Columbia has been found in a lake in Texas after drought caused the water levels to recede, exposing the relic eight years after it fell to Earth.
Police in Nacogdoches called Nasa after a 4ft-wide sphere that plunged from the spacecraft as it broke up during its return to Earth on February 1, 2003, was found sitting in mud on the north side of the local lake.
More than 84,000 pieces of wreckage from Columbia rained down on Texas and Louisiana as the spacecraft disintegrated at hypersonic speed, just minutes before it had been due to land at Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.

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Challenger Crew To Be Honoured On 25th Anniversary of Disaster

The Challenger Learning Centre at Wheeling Jesuit University is planning a commemoration of the Challenger space shuttle disaster on Jan. 28.
Twenty-five years ago on that date, the space shuttle exploded in the sky, killing its seven-member crew, including Christa McAuliffe, who was to be the first teacher in space. Adults and school children paused during the day to watch the historic launch, but instead witnessed a horror on live television.

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STS-107 was a space shuttle mission by NASA using the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched January 16, 2003.
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Spaceshuttle Columbia
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Space Shuttle Columbia
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The space shuttle Columbia

 

'Crashes!'

 

Engage!

 

Saturday, February 1, 2003

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida

Space shuttle Columbia apparently disintegrated in flames over Texas on Saturday minutes before it was to land in Florida. TV video showed what appeared to be falling debris.

NASA lost communication with space shuttle Columbia shortly before its scheduled landing on Saturday. It was unclear whether there were any other problems. Mission Control reported no communication with the shuttle after 9 a.m. EST.

The shuttle was carrying five Americans an Indian and Israeli astronaut, ,

Shuttle commander Rick D. Husband, pilot William C. McCool, payload commander Michael P. Anderson, mission specialists David M. Brown, Ilan Ramon and Laurel Clark and India's first woman astronaut, Kalpana Chawla.

Authorities had feared it would be a terrorist target. Fifteen minutes after the expected landing time, and with no word from the shuttle, NASA announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

 

spacer.gif break-up

As i watched

NASA, while not saying the shuttle had exploded, broken up or crashed, warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided and could be hazardous. Inside Mission Control, flight controller hovered in front of their computers, staring at the screens. The wives, husbands and children of the astronauts who had been waiting at the landing strip were gathered together by NASA and taken to separate place. Columbia was at an altitude of 200,700 feet over north-central Texas at a 9 a.m., travelling at 12,500 mph (18 times the speed of sound) when mission control lost contact and tracking data. Reporters at the landing strip were ordered away 7 minutes after the scheduled touchdown with still no sign of the shuttle.

NASA's oldest shuttle, Columbia was inaugurated in flight on April 12, 1981, and had flown 27 times in space.

In 42 years of human space flight, NASA has never lost a space crew during landing or the ride back to orbit. In 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. Security had been tight for the 16-day scientific research mission that included the first Israeli astronaut. The shuttle Columbia was captured by TV cameras as it flew over Dallas, Texas, on Saturday morning, on its way to a planned 9:16 a.m EST landing at the Kennedy Centre.

Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force and former fighter pilot, became the first man from his country to fly in space, and his presence resulted in an increase in security, not only for Columbia's January 16 launch, but also for its landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

 

Download last transmission. (729 kb)

On launch day, a piece of insulating foam on the external fuel tank came off during liftoff and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle. NASA said as late as Friday that the damage to the thermal tiles was believed to be minor and posed no safety concern during the fiery decent through the atmosphere.
Science mission Columbia's crew completed all of their 80-plus experiments in orbit. They studied ant, bee and spider behaviour in weightlessness as well as changes in flames and flower scents, and took measurements of atmospheric dust with a pair of Israeli cameras. The 13 lab rats on board -- part of a brain and heart study -- faced the guillotine following the flight so researchers could see up-close the effects of so much time in weightlessness. The insects and other animals had a brighter, longer future: the student experimenters were going to get them back and many of the youngsters planned to keep them, almost like pets. All of the scientific objectives were accomplished during the round-the-clock laboratory mission, and some of the work may be continued aboard the international space station, researchers said.
The only problem of note was a pair of malfunctioning dehumidifiers, which temporarily raised temperatures inside the laboratory to the low 80s, 10 degrees higher than desired.

Some of Columbia's crew members didn't want their time in space to end.

"Do we really have to come back?"

Astronaut David Brown jokingly asked Mission Control before the ride home.

Engage!

Three Apollo 1 astronauts died in a launch-pad fire during tests on Jan. 27, 1967.

The Challenger explosion, which killed seven astronauts, was on Jan. 28, 1986.

 

Engage!

spacer.gif Columbia crew

The crew on a training expedition


"The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on."

'Update'

 

Friday, February 14, 2003

 

Columbia 'puncture' theory examined

The Columbia space shuttle almost certainly suffered a devastating puncture which allowed hot air inside the left wing, US investigators say.

Columbia broke up upon re-entry on 1 February with the loss of its crew of seven in a disaster which has raised questions about the future of the International Space Station.

" A substantial hole in the wing... would not be at all surprising "

 

spacer.gif shuttle wing

Shuttle wing

Nasa scientists studying debris at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida now say the disintegration occurred after its left wing was punctured in some way.
It is the first time the US space agency has hinted that the tragedy was probably not caused by the loss of a heat-resistant tile as originally thought, correspondents say.
Investigators say they are now working on the theory that super-heated air, or plasma, managed to penetrate deep inside the wing during re-entry, effectively melting it.
They were speaking after Nasa announced it had finally identified the bodies of all seven members of the crew.

'Substantial hole'

Officials are not sure where a breach may have opened in Columbia's skin - but Nasa spokesman James Hartsfield pointed to the leading edge or elsewhere on the left wing, the fuselage or the left landing gear door.

"Any of those could be potential causes for the temperature change we saw," he said.

"They do not, and have not pinpointed, any general location as to where that plasma flow would have to originate."

Moments before the shuttle broke up, Mission Control noticed an unusually high heat build-up in the shuttle's left wing, which could have indicated missing or damaged tiles.

But scientists say the loss of a tile could not have produced such an unusual temperature.

"I think there was a substantial hole in the wing...That would not be at all surprising. All the sensors in the wing failed or gave bad readings."


This is Nasa's first significant theory about the cause of the accident and it suggests the wing was more seriously damaged than previously thought.
One possibility being put forward by scientists is that the puncture was caused by a piece of space debris as Columbia started its descent.

Landing gear theory

Nasa's investigators have dismissed suggestions that Columbia's left landing gear was improperly lowered as it raced through Earth's atmosphere.

spacer.gif shuttle memorial on Spirit rover

Shuttle memorial on Spirit rover

SHUTTLE BREAK-UP
Re-entered atmosphere at 12,500 mph (20,000 km/h) Disintegrated 40 miles (65 kilometres) above the Earth Debris scattered over Texas and Louisiana - reports now being checked of sightings in California and Arizona
They were responding to reports that a sensor had shown the gear was down just 26 seconds before Columbia's destruction.

Tyres are supposed to remain raised until the shuttle is about 200 feet (60 metres) over the runway and flying at 345 mph (555 km/h).

Experts believe that if Columbia's gear had been lowered at that speed, the heat and rushing air would have sheared off Columbia's tires and led quickly to the spacecraft's destruction.
But Nasa officials said on Thursday that two other sensors had shown the gear was still raised and they said that were confident that the unusual sensor reading quoted had been wrong.

 

Shuttle crew's last minutes: 13 minutes of footage.

The Final conclusion is that foam broke away from the left bipod ramp 81.7 seconds after liftoff and hit the underside of Columbia's left wing. The foam measured 21-27 inches long by 12-18 inches wide. Before the foam separated, the shuttle , and the foam , had a combined velocity of 1,568 mph (twice the speed of sound). Because of its low density, the foam rapidly decelerated once in the airstream, slowing by 550 mph. The foam didn't fall on to the leading edge of the left wing as much as the shuttle ran into it from below. The relative speed of the collision was more than 500 mph, delivering more than a ton of force.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board concluded that the foam impact was the cause of the accident; and that the impact had knocked a 6-10 inch hole in the lower half of the shuttle's left wing; and that super-heated plasma entered through that breach and destroyed the wing, and ultimately the orbiter.

 

Click to listen!Listen: .to crew of STS-107 in training.
A metal-ring cardboard-bound notebook

that survived the fiery disintegration of space shuttle Columbia, a 38-mile fall to Earth and two months of exposure to rain and sun in a Texas field has been painstakingly restored by forensic scientists, yielding the flight diary and notes of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
The pages included a list of topics Ramon planned to talk about during broadcasts from space, and the carefully copied-down text of the Sabbath kiddush, the blessing for wine.
All together, 18 pages handwritten in Hebrew were recovered: Four sheets held Ramon's diary during the flight; six were technical classroom notes that had been made before launch; and eight were personal notes, also written before liftoff. The diary, written in black ink and pencil, covers only the first six days of the 16-day mission.

Experiments on moss grown aboard two space shuttle Columbia missions showed that the plants didn't behave as scientists expected them to in the near-absence of gravity.
The common roof moss (Ceratodon purpureus) grew in striking clockwise spirals.
Researchers expected random, unorganised growth, as seen with every other type of plant flown in space.
"We don't know why moss grew non-randomly in space, but we found distinct spiral patterns."
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A bright flash
spacer.gif TIGER

TIGER

observed by the space shuttle Columbia crew over the Indian Ocean may be a new type of transient luminous event, like lightning sprites. The flash was observed less than two weeks before the shuttle was lost during its Earth re-entry.
The Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red, or TIGER, event was recorded by a video camera in the near-infrared spectrum in the night time sky just south of Madagascar on 20 January 2003. Analysis of the video showed that the emission did not resemble any known class of luminous events, which typically appear in conjunction with thunderstorm activity.
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