Press Release

Sen. Hutchison Proposes Congressional Gold Medal for Space Shuttle Columbia Crew

By SpaceRef Editor
July 20, 2004
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WASHINGTON – On the 35th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) today introduced legislation to award the congressional gold medal to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-107, posthumously in recognition of their pioneering efforts to explore and understand our universe.

“These seven brave explorers made the ultimate sacrifice in search of knowledge. They dedicated their lives to research and their contributions to science will benefit all mankind,” said Sen. Hutchison, a member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space. “This legislation is a fitting way to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of the Columbia seven, who accepted the risks in the name of discovery.”

The Columbia STS-107 mission was launched on January 16, 2003, for a 16-day science mission featuring numerous microgravity experiments. Upon entering the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, the orbiter suffered a catastrophic failure due to a breach that occurred during launch when foam from the External Tank struck the Reinforced Carbon Carbon panels on the underside of the left wing. The orbiter and its seven crewmembers, including Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, David Brown, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Michael P. Anderson, Ilan Ramon and Kalpana Chawla, were lost approximately 16 minutes before Columbia was scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Space Center.

This mission was dedicated to research in physical, life, and space sciences. It was conducted in approximately 80 separate experiments, comprised of hundreds of samples and test points. To accomplish this aggressive agenda, the seven astronauts worked 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts. Some of the equipment they used on board included the SPACEHAB Research Double Module and Fast Reaction Experiments Enabling Science, Technology, Applications and Research (FREESTAR). This flight was also the first Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) mission since 1998. 

SpaceRef staff editor.