13 years ago today, STS-107 was the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program and the disastrous 28th mission of Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16, 2003, and during its 15 days 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds in orbit conducted a multitude of international scientific experiments.
Space Shuttle Columbia launched for the first time on mission STS-1 on April 12, 1981, the first flight of the Space Shuttle program. Over 22 year of service, it completed 27 missions.
The crew of STS-107, from left to right: David M. Brown, Rick D. Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson and Ilan Ramon.
Mission STS-107 was planned to begin on January 11, 2001, the mission was delayed 18 times and eventually launched on January 16, 2003. About 82 seconds after launch, a suitcase-size piece of foam broke off from the External Tank, striking Columbia’s left wing reinforced carbon-carbon panels. This likely created a 6-to-10 inch diameter hole, allowing hot gases to enter the wing when Columbia re-entered the atmosphere. At the time of the foam strike the orbiter was at an altitude of about 66,000ft, traveling at Mach 2.46 (1,870 mph).