The Spacecraft Tarot: Columbia

The Devil will destroy you with temptation.

The STS-1 mission launches on April 12, 1981. Image Credit: NASA

The space shuttle fleet — Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour — flew on a total of 135 missions over the course of three decades.

Mae Jemison aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-47 mission in 1992. Image Credit: NASA
Christa McAuliffe during training for the STS-51L mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Image Credit: NASA

Sadly, less than twenty years later, the space shuttle program suffered another incomprehensible loss. By all appearances, NASA did not completely learn its lesson with Challenger.

The STS-107 crew: mission specialist David Brown, mission commander Rick Husband, mission specialist Laurel Clark, mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, pilot William McCool, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon. Image Credit: NASA

Of the seven crew members aboard, STS-107 was the first spaceflight for four of the astronauts. The crew also included the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, and the first woman of Indian descent to go to space, Kalpana Chawla.

The Space Shuttle Columbia rolls towards Launch Pad 39A atop the Mobile Launcher Platform in preparation for the STS-107 mission. Image Credit: NASA

The Devil promises us easy shortcuts and instant gratification in exchange for our vigilance. We don’t want to believe anything bad can happen, so we ignore obvious warning signs. Do not be tempted to look the other way.

The STS-107 crew: mission specialist David Brown, pilot William McCool, payload commander Michael Anderson, mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, mission commander Rick Husband, mission specialist Laurel Clark, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon. Image Credit: NASA

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