8:44:09am, February 1, 2003. The Space Shuttle Columbia encounters the atmosphere after a short reentry burn.
Four minutes later, sensors show strains on the leading edge of Columbia’s left wing were higher than those recorded on previous reentries.
8:53:46am observers on the ground noted debris being shed as Columbia traveled at Mach 22.8.
8:59:32am The last transmission from the crew of the Columbia is received.
9:00:53am The main cabin was completely depressurized. 4 seconds later the crew cabin was seen disintegrating from the ground. The crew could not have survived any later than this point.
A few months earlier, a photo shows the crew posing together during a Terminal Countdown Demonstration (a simulation of the final hours of a launch countdown that serves as a practice exercise in which both the launch team and flight crew rehearse launch day timelines and procedures).
Kneeling in front are (left to right) Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon (the first Israeli astronaut), Pilot William “Willie” McCool and Mission Specialist David Brown. Standing in back are (left to right) Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Commander Rick Husband and Mission Specialist Laurel Clark.
The original image (seen here) comes from the Kennedy Space Center Media archive. As in my other edits of the Apollo 1 crew and the crew of the Challenger, the image was edited as a tribute to the memory of the crew and as a thank you for their service.
Godspeed and thank you STS-107. You are not forgotten.
The wikipedia entry here was used as the source for this blog.