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Remembering the Columbia STS-107 Mission

The Columbia STS-107 mission lifted off on January 16, 2003, for a 17-day science mission featuring numerous microgravity experiments. Upon reentering the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, the Columbia orbiter suffered a catastrophic failure due to a breach that occurred during launch when falling foam from the External Tank struck the Reinforced Carbon Carbon panels on the underside of the left wing. The orbiter and its seven crew members were lost approximately 15 minutes before Columbia was scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Space Center. This page presents information about the STS-107 flight, as well as information related to the accident and subsequent investigation by the formal Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The STS-107 Crew

Rick D. Husband


Rick Husband, 45, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was a test pilot and veteran of one spaceflight. He served as commander for STS-107. Husband received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University in 1980 and a master of science in mechanical engineering from California State University-Fresno in 1990. As commander, Husband was responsible for the overall conduct of the mission. During the mission, he maneuvered Columbia as part of several experiments in the shuttle’s payload bay that focused on the Earth and the Sun. He was also the senior member of the Red Team and worked with the following experiments: European Research In Space and Terrestrial Osteoporosis (ERISTO); Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX); Osteoporosis Experiment in Orbit (OSTEO); the Physiology and Biochemistry Team (PhAB4) suite of experiments, which included Calcium Kinetics, Latent Virus Shedding, Protein Turnover and Renal Stone Risk; and Shuttle Ozone Limb Sounding Experiment (SOLSE-2).

Selected by NASA in December 1994, Husband served as the pilot of STS-96 in 1999 – a 10-day mission during which the crew performed the first docking with the International Space Station. Prior to STS-107, Husband logged more than 235 hours in space.

Read His Biography
Portrait of Rick D. Husband
Official portrait of astronaut Rick D. Husband, mission commander