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Space Shuttle Columbia
Postponed by America's race to The Moon, nearly defeated by politics, almost overcome by technogical challenges. The triumphs and tragedy of America's first Space Shuttle, Columbia.
The Shuttle consisted of 2.5 million parts, including more than 1,000 plumbing valves, 1,400 circuit breakers and 230 miles of wire. The most complex job of building the Shuttle went to this company in Southern California. They had to design and assemble the orbiter itself.
Space Systems LORAL
When America grew more entrenched in Vietnam and struggled with racial and economic problems at home, many voters and politicians alike believed the space program should be abandoned altogether. Some of Richard Nixon's closest advisors however, convinced him that the shuttle should be built. They gave this as an example of how a reusable space vehicle would be used, and Nixon liked it.
The Shuttle would help build a space station
The Shuttle would spy on enemies
The Shuttle would captire Soviet satellites
The Shuttle would launch nuclear missiles from space
In the morning of September 17, 1976 the Shuttle manufacturer treated the world to a glimpse of the future; a test model of the orbiter, one not intended for space flight, rolled out of their Palmdale, CA plant. What name had the designers given this model?
Space Shuttles are transported to the launch pad on this slow-moving 6,000,000 pound (approx. 2,725,000 kg) vehicle. Fully loaded, it moves at a rate of 1 mph.
Big Bertha Transporter
Tracked Shuttle Transporter
Shuttle Tracked Vehicle
Shuttle Crawler Transporter
It takes this long after liftoff, before the orbiter starts circling Earth at 17,500mph (28,000km/h).
This once white and now orange part breaks up, as it falls through the intense heat of the Earth's atmosphere. It is the only expendable part of the Shuttle.
Top O-ring of the fuel tank
Phase 1 Engine
External Fuel Tank
External Rocket Booster
NASA selected this astronaut to command the first Columbia flight. He was a veteran of two Gemini and two Apollo missions and considered to be NASA's most experienced astronaut at the time.
Prior to every Space Shuttle flight, a series of events take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The Shuttle is rolled out of its processing hanger on a 96-wheel transporter and carried to this 525 ft. tall building, originally built to assemble Saturn V rockets.
Themal Tile Processing Plant (TTPP)
Modules Integration Facility (MIF)
Vehicle Asembly Building (VAB)
Final Inspection Room (FIP)
On Columbia's first mission, the crew noticed something very disturbing after opening the 60 ft. long payload bay doors.
The left door slightly bent
One of the radiators attached to the doors was loose
The doors would not close back
Thermal tiles were missing
January 16, 2003. The crew of America's 113th space shuttle mission exit the crew quarters on the 3rd floor of the operations and checkout building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They take their traditional walk to the transporter van, that will carry them to the launch pad. How old was shuttle Columbia at that time?
During takoff on Columbia's first mission, did the crew notice debree from the fuel tank flying past their window?
During the days spent in orbit, the astronauts of Columbia's last mission conducted dozens of experiments dedicated to improving life on Earth. Exactly how many days did the astronauts spend in orbit?
On February 1, 2003 at 9:29am flight director Leroy Cain declared a contingency and asked Bill Foster, who was working ground control that day, to lock the doors. Contingency is a NASA term which meant this.
The Shuttle had been lost
Personnel had to work overtime till communication was restored
There was a suspected saboteur
Interferece was preventing radio communication
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