NASA Columbia Mission Tragedy

The Crew of STS-107

February 1, 2003 - a tragic day for NASA.
The space shuttle Columbia and its crew were lost in the terrible tragedy that unfolded only minutes before the shuttle’s scheduled landing in Florida this morning.

NASA lost contact with the crew of STS-107 at 9:00 am at an altitude of 200,000 ft. Shortly after that NASA declared an emergency. Witnesses watched in horror as space shuttle Columbia broke apart and burned up in the earth’s atmosphere, leaving a trail of debris in its wake. The cause of the disaster is unknown as of this writing.

The crew was wearing partial pressure suits equipped with parachutes, but with a jump from that altitude and under those extreme circumstances, it is unlikely that they would have survived.
Search and rescue crews were immediately sent to the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas area.

At the pre-landing conference, the Entry Flight Director answered questions concerning possible damage to the shuttle's heat protection shields due to insulating foam coming loose from the shuttle’s exterior during launch. Shuttle experts say they checked the problem out and found it not to be a threat.

Columbia’s crew consisted of real heroes: Commander Rick Husband ( Colonel USAF ), Pilot William McCool ( Commander USN ), and Misson Specialists David Brown ( Captain, USN ), Mike Anderson ( Lieutenant Colonel, USAF ), Dr. Laurel Blair Salton Clark ( Commander, USN ), Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon (Colonel, Israel AF)

Columbia is NASA’s oldest shuttle and the first to reach Earth’s orbit in 1981. The shuttle was returning from a 16 day science mission.

This is a very sad day for NASA and the world.

Mike Anderson
Mission Specialist
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
Born: December 25, 1959 in Plattsburgh, New York

David Brown
Mission Specialist
Captain, USN
Born: April 16, 1956 in Arlington, Virginia

Kalpana Chawla
Mission Specialist
Born: Karnal, India

Dr. Laurel Blair Salton Clark
Mission Specialist
Commander, USN

Rick Husband
Colonel, USAF
Born: July 12, 1957 in Amarillo, Texas

William McCool
Commander, USN
Born: September 23, 1961 in San Diego California

Ilan Ramon
Mission Specialist
Colonel, Israel Air Force
Born: June 20, 1954 in Tel Aviv, Israel

photo credit NASA
page text &elements by Alison Rohde