Space Shuttle Columbia landing, 1981

Space Shuttle Columbia landing, 1981

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Credit: NASA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Space Shuttle Columbia landing. This view shows the space shuttle's underside as it makes its final approach for landing at Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California, USA. The underside consists of thermal tiles (black) that protect the shuttle during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. It was a failure of these tiles that led to the Columbia breaking up on re-entry on 1 February 2003, with the loss of all those on board. This landing took place at 21:23 UTC, on 14 November 1981, as part of mission STS-2. This was Columbia's second flight after its maiden mission in April of that year. The crew were Joe Engle and Richard Truly.

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