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Biography: Space Shuttle Columbia (OV - 102)

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Space Shuttle Columbia
OV-102
April 12, 1981 - February 1, 2003

columbialaunch.jpg

Construction began on Columbia in 1975 primarily in Palmdale, California. Columbia was named after the Boston-based sloop Columbia captained by American Robert Gray. After construction, the orbiter arrived at John F. Kennedy Space Center on March 25, 1979 to prepare for its first launch. However, before its first mission, three workers were killed and five injured during a ground test of the orbiter on March 19, 1981.

The first flight of Columbia was commanded by John Young (a space veteran from the Gemini and Apollo eras) and piloted by Robert Crippen, a rookie who had never been in space before, but who served as support crew for the Skylab missions and Apollo-Soyuz.

In 1983, Columbia launched the first mission (STS-9) with 6 astronauts, including the first non-American astronaut on a space shuttle, Ulf Merbold. On January 12, 1986 Columbia took off with the first Hispanic American astronaut, Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz. Another first was announced on March 5, 1998 when NASA named their choice of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins as commander of a future Columbia mission making Collins the first woman commander of a space shuttle mission.

Flights

Space Shuttle Columbia flew 28 flights, spent 300.74-days in space, completed 4,808 orbits, and flew 125,204,911 miles in total, including its final mission.

Date Designation Notes
1981 April 12 STS-1 First Shuttle mission
1981 November 12 STS-2 First re-use of manned space vehicle
1982 March 22 STS-3 Landed White Sands Missile Range
1982 June 27 STS-4 Last shuttle R&D flight
1982 November 11 STS-5 First 4 person crew
1983 November 28 STS-9 First 6 person crew
1986 January 12 STS-61-C Congressman Bill Nelson on board
1989 August 8 STS-28 Launched KH-11 reconnaissance satellite
1990 January 9 STS-32 Retrieved Long Duration Exposure Facility
1990 December 2 STS-35 Carried multiple X-ray & UV telescopes
1991 June 5 STS-40 5th Spacelab - Life Sciences-1
1992 June 25 STS-50 U.S. Microgravity Laboratory 1 (USML-1)
1992 October 22 STS-52 Deployed Laser Geodynamic Satellite II
1993 April 26 STS-55 German Spacelab D-2 Microgravity Research
1993 October 18 STS-58 Spacelab Life Sciences
1994 March 4 STS-62 United States Microgravity Payload-2 (USMP-2)
1994 July 8 STS-65 International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2)
1995 October 20 STS-73 United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML-2)
1996 February 22 STS-75 Tethered Satellite System Reflight (TSS-1R)
1996 June 20 STS-78 Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS)
1996 November 19 STS-80 3rd flight of Wake Shield Facility (WSF)
1997 April 4 STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL)- cut short
1997 July 1 STS-94 Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL)- reflight
1997 November 19 STS-87 United States Microgravity Payload (USMP-4)
1998 April 13 STS-90 Neurolab - Spacelab
1999 July 23 STS-93 Deployed Chandra X-ray Observatory
2002 March 1 STS-109 Hubble Space Telescope service mission
2003 January 16 STS-107 Shuttle destroyed during re-entry and all seven astronauts on board killed.


At a Glance

Continue to scroll down for a complete fact guide to all the Columbia missions...

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July 9, 2005
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