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Space Shuttle Columbia - Flown Nose Landing Gear Tire

Space Shuttle Columbia - Flown Nose Landing Gear Tire

This specimen is a mission-flown nose landing gear tire fragment from the Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102). Serial number verification against public information indicates the tire was removed from service after Columbia's 13th mission (STS-52).

Note: This specimen was acquired at auction after decommissioning.

Above: A stylized view of NASA image S81-30498. Taken on April 12, 1981, during the first mission of the Space Shuttle Program (STS-1).

On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia roared to life on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A. Solid rocket boosters and Columbia’s own engines delivered more than 6,600,000 pounds of thrust, lifting the crew of two and 4,500,000 pounds (2,000,000 kg) of dreams into orbit at more than 17,500 miles per hour (28,163 kmh).

Above: A classic cutaway drawing of the Space Shuttle created by NASA artists in February, 1981. We desperately wanted to include this image in the Fourth Edition Companion Guide but we ran out of space. (Source NASA S81-30630)

NASA's Space Shuttle program delivered 133 successful missions during its three decades in operation, beginning with Columbia's inaugural launch in 1981 and concluding with Atlantis' final flight in 2011. Missions involved many vital tasks, such as maintaining the International Space Station, repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, and deploying satellites. Scientific experiments featured heavily in the rotation, using the reusable Spacelab developed by the ESA.

Above: The crew members of STS-107 pose for the traditional in-flight crew portrait. This picture was on a roll of unprocessed film later recovered by searchers from the debris. Members of the Crew: From the left (bottom row), wearing red shirts to signify their shift’s color, are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. From the left (top row), wearing blue shirts, are astronauts David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot; and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander. Ramon represents the Israeli Space Agency.(Source: NASA Image STS107-735-032 taken between January 16th and February 1st, 2003)

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia was lost when the craft disintegrated due to an undetected puncture in the wing. The damage occurred during liftoff but did not present a problem until re-entering the atmosphere. All seven members of the crew perished, a powerful reminder of the dangers humanity faces as they move boldly toward the stars.

Each year, NASA holds a Day of Remembrance to honor those who lost their lives while furthering the space exploration. We welcome you to visit their site to learn more about men and women of Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia.

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