A Somber 10-year Anniversary For Space Shuttle Columbia

Posted at 2:16 PM, Feb 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-01 14:20:15-05

HOUSTON, TX– (CNN)  10  years ago on Feb 1, 2003 the shuttle Columbia crumbled to Earth after 16 days in the heavens.

It started as a dot — a bright, white star that raced across the Southwest.

Over Texas, the dot became a streak that thickened, then spawned smaller streaks.

A decade ago, 200,000 feet above Texas, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry.

All seven astronauts aboard died.

Today, NASA marks the anniversary with tributes to the crew of Columbia and 10 other astronauts lost in the space agency’s two previous fatal accidents — the 1986 explosion that destroyed Columbia’s sister ship Challenger, and the launch pad fire that killed Apollo 1’s three-man crew in 1967. All three anniversaries fall within a week — the Apollo fire on January 27, Challenger on January 28 and Columbia on February 1. 

The seven astronauts aboard were killed: Air Force Col. Rick Husband, 45, the crew commander; Navy Cmdr. William McCool, 41, the pilot; Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, 43, payload commander; Navy Capt. Laurel Clark, 41; Navy Capt. David Brown, 46; Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, 48, Israel’s first astronaut; and Kalpana Chawla, 41, a civilian.