Images credit & copyright: NASA and the crew of STS-107 Columbia.
“And for the whole time I was growing up, for as long as I can remember, any time anyone asked me what I wanted to be it was, “I want to be an astronaut.” – Commander Rick Husband.
Crew of STS-107 Columbia (left to right):
David M. Brown: Born, April 16, 1956: Son. Naval aviator, test pilot and flight surgeon; Brown worked on a number of scientific experiments and this was his first spaceflight.
Rick D. Husband: Born, July 12, 1957: Son, father, husband. STS-107 commander, U.S. Air Force Colonel and mechanical engineer, who piloted a Discovery during the first docking with the International Space Station (STS-96).
Laurel Blair Salton Clark: Born, March 10, 1961: Daughter, mother, wife. U.S. Navy captain and flight surgeon; Clark worked on a number of biological experiments and this was her first spaceflight.
Kalpana Chawla: Born, March 17, 1962: Daughter, wife. Indian-born aerospace engineer and first Indian-American astronaut and this was her second spaceflight as she flew onboard Columbia during STS-87.
Michael P. Anderson: Born, December 25, 1959: Son, father, husband. U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and physicist who was in charge of the science mission and this was his second spaceflight as he also flew on STS-89 which saw Endeavour venture to Mir space station.
William C. McCool: Born, September 23, 1961: Son, father, husband. U.S. Navy commander, naval aviator, STS-107 mission pilot and this was his first spaceflight.
Ilan Ramon: Born, June 20, 1954: Son, father, husband. Colonel in the Israeli Air Force, veteran of Operation Opera, the first Israeli astronaut and this was his first spaceflight.
“This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt.” – George W. Bush February 4, 2003 at the STS-107 Memorial Service at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston TX.
January 16, 2003; the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program was to be OV-102’s 28th and final flight as Columbia launched into the Florida sky from Kennedy Space Center, Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) as STS-107. The 16 day mission went as planned but it was unknown at the time , that Columbia had a massive hole in the leading edge of its left wing that it suffered during launch. A piece of orange external fuel tank foam broke free and struck the orbiter in flight. After reviewing the debris strike video, it was determined that it was unlikely that the event caused damage as this was a relatively common phenomenon.