Shuttle Columbia is the oldest NASA shuttle. It became the first shuttle
launched into space in 1981. Columbia is known as OV-102 to the people at NASA,
which stands for Orbiter Vehicle 102. The name "Columbia" honors the
sloop of Robert Gray, who lived in Boston, Mass. in the 18th century. NASA
awarded the primary shuttle contract to Rockwell International in Palmdale,
Calif. on July 26, 1972. The completely assembled Columbia spacecraft rolled
out of Palmdale March 8, 1979 and began its long trip to Florida. It made many
stops along its way, reaching Kennedy Space Center on March 24.
Columbia's empty weight at rollout was 158,289 pounds. It weighed 178,000 pounds with the main engines installed. It measured 37.2 meters tall and had a maximum diameter of 23.8 meters -- the same as the other four NASA shuttles. Its total payload equaled 21,190 kilograms. The shuttle was built to accommodate up to an eight-person crew in 71.50 cubic meters of total habitable space. Columbia's three main engines use N2O4/MMH propellant. They each weigh 7,480 pounds (3,393 kilograms), stand 14 feet (4.2 meters) tall and produce a maximum thrust of 512,950 pounds (2,308 kN) in a vacuum.
Space Shuttle Columbia has the distinction not only of being the first
shuttle to fly, but also of having been used for the first five shuttle
missions between 1981 and 1982. The shuttle program came to a screeching halt
for approximately two years after the Space Shuttle Challenger
accident that killed the crew and destroyed the spacecraft. No flights were
flown during this time. Columbia and the other remaining shuttles underwent a
series of improvements, including upgrades to the main engines, thermal
protection system and propellant supply system, and installation of a new crew
Columbia went through three other maintenance and upgrade sessions over the course of its operational lifetime. It spent approximately six months in Palmdale, Calif. from 1991 to 1992 when it became the first shuttle to go through the scheduled inspection and retrofit program. Approximately 50 modifications were made, including adding carbon brakes and a drag chute, improving the nose wheel steering, removing development flight instrumentation and enhancing the thermal protection system.
Columbia has also had two Orbiter Maintenance Down Periods, one in 1994 and another in 1999. The second OMDP included plans to make more than 100 modifications, including the installation of a multi-functional electronic display system or "glass cockpit." By the end of 1999, Columbia completed 26 spaceflights. Highlights from its flight career included being the first and only shuttle to land at White Sands, New Mexico in 1982 and being the first shuttle used to deploy a commercial satellite in November 1982. More recently, the STS-93 crew flew aboard Columbia in July 1999 to deploy the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Columbia sits on the launch pad at KSC prior to the first shuttle flight, STS-1.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory is installed into Columbia's payload bay prior to the STS-93 launch.
Columbia (OV-102) Background: Columbia, the oldest orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, is named after the Boston, Massachusetts based sloop captained by American Robert Gray. On May 11, 1792, Gray and his crew maneuvered the Columbia past the dangerous sandbar at the mouth of a river extending more than 1,000 miles through what is today south-eastern British Columbia, Canada, and the Washington-Oregon border. The river was later named after the ship. Gray also led Columbia and its crew on the first American circumnavigation of the globe, carrying a cargo of otter skins to Canton, China, and then returning to Boston. Other sailing ships have further enhanced the luster of the name Columbia. The first U.S. Navy ship to circle the globe bore that title, as did the command module for Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission. On a directly patriotic note, “Columbia” is considered to be the feminine personification of the United States. The name is derived from that of another famous explorer, Christopher Columbus.
The spaceship Columbia has continued the pioneering legacy of its forebears, becoming the first Space Shuttle to fly into Earth orbit in 1981. Four sister ships joined the fleet over the next 10 years: Challenger, arriving in 1982 but destroyed four years later; Discovery, 1983; Atlantis, 1985; and Endeavour, built as a replacement for Challenger, 1991. A test vehicle, the Enterprise, was used for suborbital approach and landing tests and did not fly in space. The names of Columbia’s sister ships each boast their own illustrious pedigree. In the day-to-day world of Shuttle operations and processing, Space Shuttle orbiters go by a more prosaic designation. Columbia is commonly refered to as OV-102, for Orbiter Vehicle-102. Empty Weight was 158,289 lbs at rollout and 178,000 lbs with main engines installed.
On October 8, 1994, Columbia was transported to Palmdale California for its first ODMP. This orbiter modification and refurbishment time is expected to take approximately 6 months. Sept 24, 1999, Columbia was transported to Palmdale CA for its second ODMP. While in CA, workers will perform more than 100 modifications on the vehicle. Columbia will be the second orbiter outfitted with the multi-functional electronic display system (MEDS) or "glass cockpit". Last year, Shuttle Atlantis had the full-color, flat-panel displays installed on its flight deck during an OMDP. The new system improves crew interaction with the orbiter during flight and reduces the high cost of maintaining outdated electromechanical cockpit displays currently onboard.
KSC February 1,
9:16 a.m. 2003 (Planned) Deorbit
burn occured at 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT) for a planned landing on KSC Runway
33. Shortly after Roll Reversal #1 (8:53 a.m. EST) at MET 15 days 22 hours 17
min 50 seconds while Columbia
was traveling at Mach 20.9 and 224,390ft, flight directors saw a loss of sensor
data (offscale low) from the hydraulic systems on the left wing. Initial
indications were loss of sensor data on the left inboard (trailing edge) wing,
followed by sensors on the left outboard (leading edge) wing.
At 8:59 a.m. there was a loss of sensor data (Tire pressure offscale low) which caused an onboard alert that was acknowledged by the crew. Communication with the crew and loss of data occured shortly after while Columbia was at a Mission Elapsed Time (MET) of 15 days 22 hours 20 minutes 22 seconds. The vehicle broke up while traveling at 12,500 mph (Mach 18.3) at an altitude of 207,135ft over East Central Texas resulting in the loss of both vehicle and crew. (Reference: JSC Ron Dittemore Post flight Technical News Conference 2/1/2003 3:30pm EST).
01. STS-1 (04/12/81)
02. STS-2 (11/12/81)
03. STS-3 (03/22/82)
04. STS-4 (06/27/82)
05. STS-5 (11/11/82)
06. STS-9 (11/28/83)
07. 61-C (01/12/86)
08. STS-28 (08/08/89)
09. STS-32 (01/09/90)
10. STS-35 (12/02/90)
11. STS-40 (06/05/91)
12. STS-50 (06/25/92)
13. STS-52 (10/22/92)
14. STS-55 (04/26/93)
15. STS-58 (10/18/93)
16. STS-62 (3/4/94)
17. STS-65 (7/8/94)
18. STS-73 (10/20/95)
19. STS-75 (2/22/96)
20. STS-78 (6/20/96)
21. STS-80 (11/19/96)
22. STS-83 (04/04/97)
23. STS-94 (07/01/97)
24. STS-87 (11/19/97)
25. STS-90 (4/13/98)
26. STS-93 (7/23/99)
27. STS-109 (3/1/02)
28. STS-107 (1/16/03 - Crew and Vehicle lost during landing 2/1/03)
STS-107 MCC Status Report
Saturday, February 1, 2003 - 7:00 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
The Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts were lost today when the vehicle broke up over north central Texas during its reentry from orbit.
Communications were lost with Columbia and its crew at around 8:00 a.m. CST, while the shuttle was traveling about 18 times the speed of sound at an altitude of 207,000 feet. Columbia was 16 minutes from landing at the Kennedy Space Center when flight controllers at Mission Control lost contact with the vehicle. Columbia was returning from a 16-day scientific research mission, its 28th flight, which launched on January 16.
Aboard Columbia were Commander Rick Husband, completing his second flight, Pilot William McCool, wrapping up his first mission, Mission Specialists Dave Brown, also completing his first mission, Kalpana Chawla, on her second flight, Laurel Clark, a first-time space traveler, Payload Commander Mike Anderson, ending his second flight, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon of the Israel Space Agency, on his first flight.
Prior to the loss of communications with Columbia, the shuttle’s return to Earth appeared perfectly normal. After assessing some wispy fog near the shuttle’s three-mile long landing strip at KSC before dawn, Entry Flight Director Leroy Cain gave approval for the firing of the shuttle’s braking rockets to begin its descent from orbit.
Husband and McCool began the deorbit burn to allow Columbia to slip out of orbit at 7:15 a.m. CST. There was no indication of anything abnormal with Columbia’s reentry until the last communications between Mission Control and the crew.
At Columbia’s intended landing site, NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and Associate Administrator for Space Flight William Readdy met with the families of the astronauts to offer their condolences, vowed to uncover the cause of the accident and press ahead with the Shuttle program.
“This is indeed a tragic day for the NASA family, for the families of the astronauts who flew on STS-107, and likewise is tragic for the nation,” said O’Keefe.
“We have no indication that the mishap was caused by anything or anyone on the ground,” O’Keefe added.
In a briefing, Chief Flight Director Milt Heflin said that around 7:53 a.m. CST, just minutes before communications were lost with Columbia, flight controllers detected indications of a loss of hydraulic system temperature measurements associated with Columbia’s left wing, followed three minutes later by an increase in temperatures on the left main gear tires and brakes. At 7:58 a.m., flight controllers noted a loss of bondline temperature sensor data in the area of the left wing followed a minute later by a loss of data on tire temperatures and pressures for the left inboard and outboard tires.
After several attempts to try to contact Columbia, Cain declared a contingency, whereby flight controllers began preserving documentation regarding the entry phase of the flight. Recovery forces fanned out from Texas to Louisiana to try to recover debris that will be pertinent to the mishap investigation.
Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said several teams have been organized to gather data for analysis and will report to an external investigation board that was appointed by Administrator O’Keefe. Dittemore added that no specific orbiter debris or crew remains have been positively identified at this time, and that there is no leading theory for the cause of the accident.
Dittemore said the processing of other shuttles at the Kennedy Space Center for future launches has been temporarily halted to enable engineers to review data regarding vehicle processing and to focus attention on capturing all pertinent information involving Columbia’s prelaunch preparations.
NASA managers will be meeting on a regular basis to begin reviewing data associated with Columbia’s investigation. The next status briefing from the Johnson Space Center is tentatively scheduled from the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX at 12:00 p.m. CST Sunday. It will be seen on NASA Television with two-way question and answer capability for reporters from NASA centers.
NASA TV can be found on AMC-2, Transponder 9C, vertical polarization at 85 degrees West longitude, 3880 MHz, with audio at 6.8 MHz.
On the International Space Station, Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit were informed of the loss of Columbia and its crew shortly after a Russian Progress resupply vehicle undocked from the ISS. Filled with discarded items no longer needed on the ISS, the Progress was commanded to deorbit by Russian flight controllers and reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.
A new Progress cargo ship will be launched Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:59 a.m. CST (1259 GMT) filled with supplies for the Expedition 6 crew. It is scheduled to dock to the ISS Tuesday morning. ISS program officials say, if necessary, the current resident crew could remain in orbit until late June with the supplies being ferried to the station on the new Progress.
Additional status reports will be issued as new information becomes available.
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