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  ColumbiaOV-102 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. OV designation OV-102 Country United States Contract award July 26, 1972 Named after Columbia (1773)(renamed Columbia Rediviva ,1787) Status Destroyed February 1, 2003 First flight STS-1April 12, 1981 – April 14, 1981 Last flight STS-107January 16, 2003 – February 1,2003 Number of missions 28 Crew members 160 Time spent inspace 300 days 17:40:22 [1] Number of orbits 4,808 Distancetravelled 201,497,772 km (125,204,911miles) Satellitesdeployed 8 Space Shuttle Columbia From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Space Shuttle Columbia (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-102 ) was the firstspaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission,the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before disintegrating duringre-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107, resulting in thedeaths of all crew members aboard. Contents 1 History1.1 Construction milestones2 Prototype orbiter 3 Flights3.1 Mission insignia4 Final mission and destruction5 Tribute6 In popular culture7 See also8 References9 External links History  Columbia in the Orbiter ProcessingFacility after delivery to KennedySpace Center in 1979. Columbia astronauts Thomas K.Mattingly and Pilot Henry Hartsfieldsalute President Ronald Reagan,standing beside his wife, Nancy, uponlanding in 1982. Construction began on Columbia in 1975 at Rockwell International's (formerly North American Aviation/North American Rockwell, nowBoeing North America) principal assembly facility in Palmdale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Columbia was named after the historical poetic name for the United States of America, like the explorer ship of Captain Robert Gray and the Command Module of Apollo 11, the firstmanned landing on another celestial body. Columbia was also the female symbol of the U.S. After construction, the orbiter arrived at KennedySpace Center on March 25, 1979, to prepare for its first launch. Columbia was srcinally scheduled to lift off in late 1979, however the launchdate was delayed by problems with both the SSME components, as well as the thermal protection system (TPS). [2] On March 19, 1981, during preparations for a ground test, workers were asphyxiated while working in Columbia's nitrogen-purged aft engine compartment, resulting in(variously reported) two or three fatalities. [3][4] The first flight of  Columbia (STS-1) was commanded by John Young, a Gemini and Apollo veteranwho was the ninth person to walk on the Moon in 1972, and piloted by Robert Crippen, a rookieastronaut srcinally selected to fly on the military's Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) spacecraft, buttransferred to NASA after its cancellation, and served as a support crew member for the Skylab andApollo-Soyuz missions. Columbia spent 610 days in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), another thirty-five days in theVehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and 105 days on Pad 39A before finally lifting off. [2]   Columbia was successfully launched on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the first human spaceflight(Vostok 1), and returned on April 14, 1981, after orbiting the Earth 36 times, landing on the drylakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Columbia then undertook three further research missions to test its technical characteristics and performance. Its first operational mission, witha four-man crew, was STS-5, which launched on November 11, 1982. At this point Columbia wasoined by Challenger  , which performed the next three shuttle missions, while Columbia underwentmodifications for the first Spacelab mission.In 1983, Columbia , under the command of John Young for his sixth spaceflight, undertook its second operational mission(STS-9), in which the Spacelab science laboratory and a six- person crew was carried, including the first non-Americanastronaut on a space shuttle, Ulf Merbold. After the flight, Columbia spent 18 months at the RockwellPalmdale facility beginning in January 1984, undergoing modifications that removed the Orbiter FlightTest hardware and bringing it up to similar specifications as that of its sister orbiters. At that time theshuttle fleet was expanded to include  Discovery and  Atlantis . Columbia returned to space on January 12, 1986, with the launch of STS-61-C. The mission's crewincluded Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, as well as the first sitting member of the House of Representativesto venture into space, Bill Nelson.The next shuttle mission was undertaken by Challenger  . It was launched on January 28, 1986, tendays after STS-61-C had landed. The mission ended in disaster 73 seconds after launch. In theaftermath NASA's shuttle timetable was disrupted, and Columbia was not flown again until 1989 (onSTS-28), after which it resumed normal service as part of the shuttle fleet.STS-93, launched on July 23, 1999, was commanded by Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, the first female Commander of a U.S. spacecraft.Following an independent investigation into the cause of the Columbia accident, President Bush decided to retire the Shuttle orbiter fleet by 2010in favor of the Constellation program and its manned Orion spacecraft. However, President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010on October 11 which officially brought the Constellation program to an end. Construction milestones  Columbia launching during STS-1. Its distinctive black chines and USA painted on the starboardwing are visible. Columbia wasthe only orbiter launched with itsexternal tank painted white, whichwas later discontinued to saveweight. DateMilestone [5] 1972 July 26Contract Award to North American Rockwell1975 March 27Start long lead fabrication of aft fuselage1975 November 17Start long lead fabrication of crew module1976 June 28Start assembly of crew module1976 September 13Start structural assembly of aft fuselage1976 December 13Start assembly of upper forward fuselage1977 January 3Start assembly of vertical stabilizer 1977 August 26Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman1977 October 28Lower forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale1977 November 7Start of Final Assembly1978 February 24Body flap on dock, Palmdale1978 April 28Forward payload bay doors on dock, Palmdale1978 May 26Upper forward fuselage mate1978 July 7Complete mate of forward and aft payload bay doors1978 September 11Complete forward RCS1979 February 3Complete combined systems test, Palmdale1979 February 16Airlock on dock, Palmdale1979 March 5Complete postcheckout1979 March 8Closeout inspection and final acceptance, Palmdale1979 March 8Rollout from Palmdale to Dryden1979 March 12Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards1979 March 20SCA ferry flight from Dryden to Bigs AFB, Texas1979 March 22SCA ferry flight from Bigs AFB to Kelly AFB, Texas1979 March 24SCA ferry flight from Kelly AFB to Eglin AFB, Florida1979 March 24SCA ferry flight from Eglin AFB to KSC1979 November 3Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) hot fire tests1979 December 16Orbiter integrated test start, KSC1980 January 14Orbiter integrated test completed, KSC1981 February 20Flight Readiness Firing (FRF)1981 April 12First Flight (STS-1) Prototype orbiter As the second orbiter to be constructed, yet the first able to fly into space, Columbia was roughly8,000 lb (3,600 kg) heavier than subsequent orbiters such as  Endeavour  , which were of a slightlydifferent design, and had benefited from advances in materials technology. [6] In part, this was due toheavier wing and fuselage spars, the weight of early test instrumentation that remained fitted to the avionicssuite, and an internal airlock that, srcinally fitted into the other orbiters, was later removed in favor of anexternal airlock to facilitate Shuttle/Mir and Shuttle/International Space Station dockings. [7] Due to itsweight, Columbia could not have used the planned Centaur-G booster (cancelled after the loss of  Challenger  ). [8] However, the retention of the internal airlock allowed NASA to use Columbia for theSTS-109 Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, along with the Spacehab double module used onSTS-107. Due to Columbia's heavier weight, it was less ideal for NASA to use it for missions to theInternational Space Station, though modifications were made to the Shuttle during its last refit in case thespacecraft was needed for such tasks.Externally, Columbia was the first orbiter in the fleet whose surface was mostly covered with High & LowTemperature Reusable Surface Insulation (HRSI/LRSI) tiles as its main thermal protection system (TPS),with white silicone rubber-painted Nomex — known as Felt Reusable Surface Insulation (FRSI) blankets – in some areas on the wings, fuselage and Payload Bay Doors. FSRI once covered almost 25% of theorbiter, though the first upgrade resulted in its removal from many areas, and in later flights was only used  Columbia landing at Edwards Air Force Base following STS-28. Columbia landing at the KennedySpace Center following STS-62.Columbia preparing for launch for STS-109 on the upper section of the Payload Bay Doors and inboard sections of the upper wing surfaces. [9] The upgrade also involved replacing many of the white LRSI tiles on the upper surfaces with Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation (AFRSI) blankets (also known as FibrousInsulation Blankets, or FIB's) after their successful use on shuttle  Discovery and  Atlantis . Originally, Columbia had 32,000 tiles – the upgradereduced this to 24,300. The AFRSI blankets consist of layers of pure silica felt sandwiched between a layer of silica fabric on the outside and S-Glass fabric on the inside, stitched together using pure silica thread in a 1-inch grid, then coated with a high-purity silica coating. The blankets aresemi-rigid and can be made as large as 30 by 30 . Each blanket can replace as many as 25 tiles and is bonded directly to the orbiter. [9] Thedirect application of the blankets to the orbiter results in weight reduction, improved producibility and durability, reduced fabrication andinstallation cost, and reduced installation schedule time. [10] The work was performed during Columbia's first retrofitting and the post- Challenger  stand-down.Despite refinements to the launcher's thermal protection system and other enhancements, Columbia wouldnever weigh as little unloaded as the other orbiters in the fleet. The next-oldest shuttle, Challenger  , wasalso relatively heavy, although 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) lighter than Columbia .Until its last refit, Columbia was the only operational orbiter with wing markings consisting of an Americanflag on the port (left) wing and the letters USA on the starboard (right) wing. Challenger  ,  Discovery ,  Atlantis and  Endeavour  all, until 1998, bore markings consisting of the letters USA afore an Americanflag on the left wing, and the pre-1998 NASA worm logo afore the respective orbiter's name on the rightwing. (  Enterprise , the test vehicle which was the prototype for  Columbia , srcinally had the same wingmarkings as Columbia but with the letters USA on the right wing spaced closer together;  Enterprise'  smarkings were modified to match Challenger  in 1983.) The name of the orbiter was srcinally placed onthe payload bay doors much like  Enterprise but was placed on the crew cabin after the Challenger  disaster so that the orbiter could be easily identified while in orbit. From its last refit to its destruction, Columbia bore markings identical to those of its operational sister orbiters – the NASA meatball logo on the left wing and the American flagafore the orbiter's name on the right; only Columbia's distinctive wing chines remained. These black areas on the upper surfaces of the shuttle'sforward wing were added because, at first, shuttle designers did not know how reentry heating would affect the craft's upper wing surfaces. The chines allowed Columbia to be easily recognized at a distance, as opposed to the subsequent orbiters. The chines were added after  Columbia arrived at KSC in 1979.Another unique external feature, termed the SILTS pod, was located on the top of  Columbia's tailfin, and was installed after STS-9 to acquireinfrared and other thermal data. Though the pod's equipment was removed after initial tests, NASA decided to leave it in place, mainly to savecosts, along with the agency's plans to use it for future experiments. The tailfin was later modified to incorporate the drag chute first used on  Endeavour  in 1992. Columbia was also srcinally fitted with Lockheed-built ejection seats identical to those found on the SR-71 Blackbird. These were active for the four orbital test flights, but deactivated after STS-4, and removedentirely after STS-9. Columbia was also the only orbiter not delivered with head-up displays for theCommander and Pilot, although these were incorporated after STS-9. Like its sister ships, Columbia waseventually retrofitted (at its last refit) with the new MEDS glass cockpit display and lightweight seats.Had Columbia not been destroyed, it would have been fitted with the external airlock/docking adapter for STS-118, an International Space Station assembly mission, srcinally planned for November 2003. Columbia was scheduled for this mission due to  Discovery being out of service for its OrbitalMaintenance Down Period, and because the ISS assembly schedule could not be adhered to with only  Endeavour  and  Atlantis . Columbia’s career would have started to wind down after STS-118. It was to service the HubbleSpace Telescope two more times, once in 2004, and again in 2005, but no more missions were planned for it again until 2009 when, on STS-144, it would retrieve the Hubble Space Telescope fromorbit and bring it back to Earth. Following the Columbia accident, NASA flew the STS-125 missionusing  Atlantis , combining the planned fourth and fifth servicing missions into one final visit to Hubble.Because of the expected retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the batteries and gyroscopes that keepthe telescope pointed will eventually fail, which would result in its reentry and break-up in Earth'satmosphere. A Soft Capture Docking Mechanism , based on the docking adapter that was to be usedon the Orion spacecraft, was installed during the last servicing mission in anticipation of this event. Columbia was also scheduled to launch the X-38 V-201 Crew Return Vehicle prototype as the nextmission after STS-118, until the cancellation of the project in 2002. Flights Space Shuttle Columbia flew 28 flights, spent 300.74 days in space, completed 4,808 orbits, and flew 125,204,911 miles (201,497,772 km) intotal, including its final mission. Columbia was the only shuttle to have been spaceworthy during both the Shuttle-Mir and International Space Station programs and yet to havenever visited either Mir or ISS. In contrast,  Discovery ,  Atlantis , and  Endeavour  have all visited both stations at least once, as Columbia wasnot suited for high-inclination missions. Challenger  was destroyed before the Shuttle-Mir Program began, and  Enterprise never flew in space.
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