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STS-107 was a space shuttle mission by NASAmarker using the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched January 16, 2003. This was a multi-disciplinary microgravity and Earth science research mission with a multitude of international scientific investigations conducted continuously during 16 days in orbit.

The seven-member crew died on February 1, 2003 when the shuttle disintegrated during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. The cause of the accident was determined to be a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system components (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the left wing of the Shuttle orbiter, causing an extensive heat build-up. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and total disintegration of the vehicle.

The mission of STS-107

STS-107 carried the SPACEHAB Double Research Module on its inaugural flight, the Freestar experiment (mounted on a Hitchhiker Program rack), and the Extended Duration Orbiter pallet.

One of the experiments, a video taken to study atmospheric dust, may have detected a new atmospheric phenomenon, dubbed a "TIGER" (Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red).

On board the Columbia was a copy of a drawing by Petr Ginz, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Vedem, who depicted what he imagined the Earth looked like from the Moon when he was a 14-year-old prisoner in the Terezínmarker concentration camp. The copy was in the possession of Ilan Ramon and was lost in the crash.


Mission parameters

Crew members' aerospace history

  • William C. McCool, Pilot. A U.S. Naval Commander, In 1986, McCool began his flying career with the Navy. He flew 24 different aircraft, including the EA-6B Prowler, and had more than 400 carrier landings. He became a test pilot in 1992. The pilot served on two aircraft carriers, the USS Coral Sea and the USS Enterprise, and had more than 2,800 hours of flight time. McCool became an astronaut candidate and reported to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 1996.
The STS-107 crewmembers strike a ‘flying’ pose for a traditional in-flight crew portrait in the SPACEHAB aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.
The picture was on a roll of unprocessed film recovered by searchers from the Columbia debris.
  • David M. Brown, Mission Specialist. A U.S. Navy captain trained as an aviator and flight surgeon. Brown worked on a number of scientific experiments. In 1988, Brown became the only flight surgeon to be selected for pilot training in a 10-year period. He completed his training and became a naval aviator in 1990, ranking first in his class. He logged 1,700 hours of flight time in high-performance military aircraft during his tenure with the Navy. In 1996, his talents took him to NASA when he was selected as an astronaut candidate.

  • Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist. Her path to become an astronaut began in Karnalmarker, India. Chawla emigrated to the United States to go to college (University of Texas at Arlingtonmarker and University of Coloradomarker) and was a naturalized American citizen. She was an aerospace engineer. Her first flight was STS-87, the fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight, on Space Shuttle Columbia from Nov. 19 to Dec. 5, 1997. She was a mission specialist and operated Columbia's robot arm. She returned to space in Jan. 16, 2003, aboard Columbia. She served as mission specialist and flight engineer during the 16-day research flight. The agency selected her as an astronaut candidate in December 1994, and she reported to Johnson Space Center in March 1995.

  • Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander. A U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and physicist who was in charge of the science mission. Anderson received a master's degree in physics in 1990 from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Anderson flew various models of the KC-135 and the T-38A aircraft, logging more than 3,000 hours of flight time. He also became an instructor pilot. In late 1994 when NASA selected him as an astronaut candidate. Anderson's first space flight occurred in 1998 when he flew as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-89.

  • Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist. A U.S. Navy commander and flight surgeon. Her path to becoming an astronaut included being a member of the U.S. Navy. During her time in the Navy, Clark became an undersea medical officer. While stationed in Scotland, she dove with divers and performed numerous medical evacuations from U.S. submarines. Later, she became a flight surgeon. Clark worked on a number of biological experiments.

  • Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist. A Colonel in the Israeli Air Force and the first Israelimarker astronaut. He fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air Force Flight School in 1974. In 1981, he took part in the IAF mission that destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq. Over the next nine years, he gained experience in flying the A-4, F-16 and Mirage III-C aircraft, which included time training at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Then, he attended the University of Tel Avivmarker from 1983 to 1987, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering. He then returned to flying for the air force. Ramon compiled more than 4,000 flight hours in Israeli military aircraft. In 1997 he was selected to be an astronaut, and he reported to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 1998.


Launch of STS-107 from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
STS-107 Robbins Medallion
The central element of the patch is the microgravity symbol, µg, flowing into the rays of the astronaut symbol.

The mission inclination is portrayed by the 39 degree angle of the astronaut symbol to the Earth's horizon. The sunrise is representative of the numerous experiments that are the dawn of a new era for continued microgravity research on the International Space Station and beyond. The breadth of science and the exploration of space is illustrated by the Earth and stars. The constellation Columba (the dove) was chosen to symbolize peace on Earth and the Space Shuttle Columbia. The seven stars also represent the mission crew members and honor the original astronauts who paved the way to make research in space possible. Six stars have five points, the seventh has six points like a Star of David, symbolizing the Israeli Space Agency's contributions to the mission.

An Israelimarker flag is adjacent to the name of Payload Specialist Ramon, who was the first Israeli in space. The crew insignia or 'patch' design was initiated by crew members Dr. Laurel Clark and Dr. Kalpana Chawla. First-time crew member Clark provided most of the design concepts as Chawla led the design of her maiden voyage STS-87 insignia. Clark also pointed out that the dove in the Columba constellation was mythologically connected to the explorers 'The Argonauts' who released the dove.

See also


  1. Columbia crew saw new atmospheric phenomenon
  2. - Space Shuttle - STS-107
  3. Constellation Columba

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