Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster: Step-by-step graphic reveals exactly what went wrong during the fatal 2003 incident - and how it changed NASA forever

Trending 2 weeks ago

It's been conscionable complete 21 years since 1 of nan darkest days successful NASA's history. 

On nan greeting of February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated arsenic it reentered nan ambiance complete Texas and Louisiana. 

The 7 astronauts aboard – David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool and Ilan Ramon – each mislaid their lives. 

The tragic arena is being retold for a BBC Two documentary bid airing from this week connected BBC Two, 'The Space Shuttle That Fell to Earth'. 

MailOnline has revealed a step-by-step schematic showing exactly what went incorrect connected that fateful morning, which changed NASA forever.

Damage to Columbia sustained during nan shuttle's motorboat successful January 2003 had meant it wasn't fresh to effort a safe reentry

(L-R) David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool and Ilan Ramon mislaid their lives successful nan Space Shuttle Colombia disaster successful 2003

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster: Mission facts

Mission: Microgravity investigation mission/SPACEHAB 

Space shuttle: Columbia 

Launch location: Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A 

Launch time: January 16, 2003, 10:39am EST 

Crew: Commander Rick Husband; aviator William McCool; ngo specialists Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, and Laurel Clark; and payload master Ilan Ramon, nan first Israeli astronaut 

Space Shuttle Colombia had completed a 16-day mission, officially designated arsenic 'STS-107' by NASA. 

As a investigation mission, nan unit was kept engaged 24 hours a time successful abstraction performing various chores progressive pinch subject experiments. 

Largely things had gone smoothly, according to NASA.  

'The astronauts exceeded scientists’ expectations successful position of nan subject obtained during their 16 days successful space,' it said successful a later statement. 

However, 1 rumor during motorboat connected January 16 would later beryllium fatal. 

At 82 seconds aft blast-off, a portion of foam insulation, astir nan size of a briefcase, collapsed disconnected from nan outer vessel and struck nan larboard helping of nan orbiter.

Some NASA crushed power unit had been alert of nan foam and were concerned astir nan harm it could do upon reentry.

On January 23, nan mission’s eighth day, J. Steve Stich from ngo power notified 2 of nan crew – Rick Husband and William McCool – of nan foam onslaught successful an email, including a video clip of nan impact. 

However, Stich assured them that because nan arena had occurred connected erstwhile missions, it caused nary interest for harm to nan conveyance aliases for reentry. 

Footage shows nan foam falling and nan harm to nan helping during launch: 

The Space Shuttle Columbia, connected ngo STS-107, launches January 16, 2003 astatine Kennedy Space Center astatine Cape Canaveral, Florida

A chilling video, shared connected Reddit successful 2022, depicts nan last harrowing moments of nan unit successful nan cockpit earlier Colombia began to autumn apart

Engineers connected nan crushed continued to measure nan effect of nan foam strike, requesting high-resolution imaging of nan affected area to complete a much thorough study – but yet managers turned down nan request. 

It later emerged that some members of unit had been alert of nan grade of nan damage but said location was 'nothing we tin do'. 

There was nary measurement to repair immoderate suspected damage, arsenic nan unit were acold from nan International Space Station and had nary robotic limb for repairs. 

Still unaware of nan imminent threat to their lives, connected January 28 the Columbia unit paid tribute to their chap astronauts mislaid successful nan Challenger mishap 17 years earlier and successful the Apollo 1 motorboat pad occurrence successful 1967. 

By nan time of nan crew's scheduled return connected February 1, NASA unit faced nan terrible decision complete whether to fto nan astronauts cognize that they whitethorn die on re-entry aliases look orbiting successful abstraction until nan oxygen ran out. 

Those connected nan crushed decided that it would beryllium amended if nan unit were spared knowledge of nan risks. 

As Colombia prepared to re-enter nan atmosphere, nan harm caused by nan foam allowed basking atmospheric gases to penetrate and destruct nan soul helping structure.

When nan conveyance began reentry this damaged conception of nan helping was subjected to utmost introduction heating complete a agelong play of time. 

Tragically, this caused nan spacecraft to go unstable and break apart, astir 40 miles (60km) complete nan aboveground of Earth. 

The resulting debris was recovered scattered crossed Texas successful nan pursuing years, including helmets, heat shield tiles and, sadly, nan remains of nan astronauts themselves. 

It's thought nan unit knew of their business for possibly only a infinitesimal aliases truthful earlier conveyance breakup and apt blacked retired arsenic soon arsenic their unit module mislaid pressure. 

Mac Powell stands adjacent to what he believes to beryllium nan suspected damaged near helping from nan fallen abstraction shuttle Columbia, connected his spot successful Nacogdoches County, Texas successful 2003

Columbia Space Shuttle debris lies level of nan RLV Hangar May 15, 2003 astatine Kennedy Space Center, Florida

When Mission Control had it confirmed that nan shuttle had surgery up complete Texas, Flight Director Leroy Cain ordered nan room connected lock-down and each machine information saved for later investigation. 

In August 2003, Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) released its findings into nan origin of nan disaster and made a bid of recommendations. 

The CAIB study criticized NASA’s organisational and information culture, uncovering akin faults that led to nan 1986 Challenger accident. 

After nan deadly incident, president George W. Bush's management decided to put an extremity to nan Columbia shuttle program.

What's more, nan remaining 3 shuttles, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, were grounded until NASA and its contractors could create intends to forestall akin accidents, which included kits for repairs successful orbit. 

Today, nan Orion spacecraft, built for parented missions to nan satellite arsenic portion of NASA's upcoming Artemis programme, has a information strategy that allows nan parented portion to beryllium separated from nan motorboat conveyance successful lawsuit of a motorboat problem.

Shockingly, nan Columbia shuttle did not person this option. 

NASA besides reached a $27million colony successful 2007 pinch nan Columbia families.  

The disaster will beryllium retold for a BBC Two documentary bid that airs this week connected BBC Two, 'The Space Shuttle That Fell to Earth'. 

It covers nan unfolding disaster and fallout shared by nan astronaut's families, arsenic good arsenic NASA staff who were progressive successful nan mission. 

A foreseeable tragedy: Safety fears complete nan 1986 Challenger ngo were raised but ignored

Challenger was 1 of NASA's top successes - but besides 1 of its darkest legacies.

It was initially built betwixt 1975 and 1978 to beryllium a trial vehicle, but was later converted into a afloat fledged spacecraft.

In its heyday, it completed 9 milestone missions - from launching nan first female astronaut into abstraction to taking portion successful nan first repair of a outer by an astronaut.

But it was besides nan conveyance that very astir ended nan abstraction programme erstwhile a probe into nan 1986 disaster recovered that nan shuttle was doomed earlier it had moreover taken off.

Crew of nan Challenger abstraction shuttle, which exploded successful 28 January 1986: (L-R beforehand row) Astronauts Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair and (L-R, rear row) Ellison Onizuka, schoolhouse coach Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judith Resnik

Roger Boisjoly, a NASA contractor astatine rocket-builder Morton Thiokol Inc, warned successful 1985 that seals connected nan booster rocket joints could neglect successful freezing temperatures.

'The consequence would beryllium a catastrophe of nan highest bid — nonaccomplishment of quality life,' he wrote successful a memo.

On nan eve of nan ill-fated flight, Boisjoly and respective colleagues reiterated their concerns and based on against launching because of predicted acold upwind astatine nan Kennedy Space Center.

But they were overruled by Morton Thiokol managers, who gave NASA nan greenish light.

After nan accident, Boisjoly testified to a statesmanlike committee investigating nan Challenger accident.

The group wished that basking gases leaked done a associated successful 1 of nan booster rockets soon aft blastoff that ended pinch nan detonation of nan shuttle's hydrogen fuel.

Boisjoly died successful 2012 aged 73.