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Remembering Space Shuttle Columbia

10 years ago today, NASA lost its first spaceworthy shuttle -- and the world lost one of the most diverse crews of astronauts ever to explore space.

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Columbia launching during STS-1. Its distinctive black chines and "USA" painted on the starboard wing are visible. Columbia was the only orbiter launched with its external tank painted white, which was later discontinued to save weight.
NASA

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Columbia in the Orbiter Processing Facility after delivery to Kennedy Space Center in 1979.
NASA

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Columbia landing at Edwards Air Force Base following STS-28.
NASA

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Columbia landing at the Kennedy Space Center following STS-62.
NASA

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Columbia preparing for launch for STS-109.
NASA

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The official crew photo of STS-107. From left to right: Brown, Husband, Clark, Chawla, Anderson, McCool, Ramon.
NASA

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Mission insignia for STS-107.
NASA

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Columbia lifting off on her final mission. The light-colored triangle visible at the base of the strut near the nose of the orbiter is the Left Bipod Foam Ramp.
NASA

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A makeshift memorial at the main entrance to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
NASA

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Columbia Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
J. Tesla

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A mock-up of a space shuttle leading edge made with an RCC-panel taken from Discovery. Simulation of known and possible conditions of the foam impact on Columbia's final launch showed Brittle fracture of RCC.
NASA

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Columbia memorial on Mars Exploration Rover "Spirit."
NASA

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Mrs. Sandy Anderson, wife of Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson, looks at the memorial along with astronauts Steve Robinson (right) and Carlos Noriega (left).
NASA

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STS-107 Commander Rick Husband sits in the cockpit of Space Shuttle Columbia during a simulated launch countdown, part of Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test activities.
NASA

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STS-107 Pilot William "Willie" McCool checks instructions in the cockpit of Space Shuttle Columbia during a simulated launch countdown, part of Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test activities.
NASA

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Space Shuttle Columbia launches on STS-109(HST-3B) to repair the Hubble Space telescope. This was the final successful mission of Columbia before STS-107.
NASA

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Rocket engines blazing, the Space Shuttle Columbia arcs into Florida's morning sky after lifting off from pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center. Seen here in January of 1996, this space shuttle has been operational for more than 15 years -- racking up 20 flights and over 77 million miles in orbit while spending 177 days in space. The first member of NASA's shuttle fleet, Columbia shares it name with another famous spacecraft launched from pad 39-A, the Apollo 11 command module.
NASA

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Close-up photo of left Bipod Foam Ramp that caused destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
NASA

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Columbia astronauts Thomas K. Mattingly and Pilot Henry Hartsfield salute President Ronald Reagan, standing beside his wife, Nancy, upon landing in 1982.
NASA

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The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry because a block of foam fell from the External Tank onto the reinforced carbon-carbon wing-leading edge of the Space Shuttle. After the disintegration, engineers demonstrated the damage that could be wrought by a small block of foam, and the panels ruined during the demonstrations, along with a block of foam, are on display at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
James E. Scarborough

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Columbia at approximately 8:57. Debris is visible coming from the left wing (bottom).
NASA

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Columbia debris (in red, orange, and yellow) detected by National Weather Service radar over Texas and Louisiana.
NOAA

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Grid on the floor of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Hangar where workers in the field bring in pieces of Columbia's debris. The Columbia Reconstruction Project Team attempted to reconstruct the bottom of the orbiter as part of the investigation into the accident.
NASA

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The flight data recorder of Columbia.
Edward O'Connor

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The STS-107 crewmembers pose for their traditional in-flight crew portrait aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. From the left (bottom row) are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. From the left (top row) are astronauts David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot; and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander.
NASA

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On the craft's maiden voyage, the crew of space shuttle Columbia took this image that showcases the blackness of space and a blue and white Earth, as well as the cargo bay and aft section of the shuttle. The image was photographed through the flight deck's aft windows. In the lower right corner is one of the vehicle's radiator panels. The pentagon-shaped object in the upper left is glare caused by window reflection.
NASA

Remembering Space Shuttle Columbia

10 years ago today, NASA lost its first spaceworthy shuttle -- and the world lost one of the most diverse crews of astronauts ever to explore space.

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