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Today In Space History: Columbia Lost On Reentry

Remembering Columbia: NASA portrait of the STS-107 crew.February 1st is the five-year anniversary of Shuttle Columbia's breakup over Texas. Seven astronauts lost their lives returning from a 16-day science mission, STS-107. NewsFromSpace was covering the landing as it happened.

President Bush issued a statement that day to a stunned nation.

The cause of the accident was later determined to be a breach in the leading edge of the left wing, which allowed a blast of superheated air to melt the underlying structure, ripping the orbiter apart as it was flying at Mach 18 across the American South. The hole was caused by a briefcase-sized chunk of foam insulation coming loose from the external tank and striking the wing during liftoff.

Rest easy, you seven... Rest easy, Columbia.