STS-107 Mission

STS-107 was the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program, and the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia.

The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 16, 2003, and during its 16 days in orbit conducted a multitude of international scientific investigations.

The seven-member crew died on February 1, 2003 when the Columbia orbiter disintegrated during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board determined the failure was caused by a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system components (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the left wing of the orbiter. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and disintegration of the vehicle.