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Columbia: The oldest of US shuttles

Source: PTI
February 02, 2003 01:22 IST
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The Columbia, which broke-up over Texas on Saturday, killing Indian America Kalpana Chawla and six other astronauts, was the oldest member of the US space fleet.

Its maiden voyage was in 1981 and the last, which commenced on January 16, was its 28th trip into space.

The original Columbia was a sloop out of Boston, Massachusetts, which was captained by Robert Gray, who was the first American to go around the world in the 18th century.

The first US navy ship to circle the globe was also baptised Columbia, and so was the command module of Apollo 11, the first mission to the moon.

Four shuttles joined Columbia: The Challenger [1982], Discovery [1983], Atlantis [1985], and the Endeavour [1991].

The last one replaced the Challenger, which blew up in 1986, killing all seven astronauts on board.

Following the loss of the Challenger, NASA made around 200 modifications in the other shuttles before flights resumed in 1988.

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