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Columbia Arrives at KSC after roll over from the Orbiter Maintenance and Refurbishment Facility


Technicians monitor Columbia as it is towed via its landing gear by a ground handling vehicle. The Orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and space shuttle main engines (SSMEs) have been removed. Protective covers are visible on SSME ports and dome heatshield. Note the lack of TPS tiles under the payload bay doors and above the US flag.

Looking up at a Shuttle Landing


(Above) Columbia STS-2 lands at Edwards Air Force Base, California. This view provides an amazing view of the high temperature protection materials that are exposed to friction on atmospheric entry. Note the trails of smoke from wing tips.

SPACE ART: Columbia Docks with Space Station Freedom


(Above) This artist concept depicts Space Shuttle Columbia docking with Ronald Reagan’s Space Station Freedom. In this painting Columbia is equipped with the Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) pallet which in this configuration would have allowed the shuttle to remain on orbit for 28 days. Space Station Freedom eventually became the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA - Rockwell International

Shuttle: Return to Sender


After completing it’s first orbital mission with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on April 14, 1981, Space Shuttle Columbia received a humorous sendoff before it’s ferry flight atop a modified 747 back to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Holding the sign reading “Return to Sender.  Let’s do it Again!” are, left to right: Melvin Burke, DFRC Orbital Flight Test (OFT) Program Manager; Isaac ‘Ike’ Gillam, DFRC Center Director; Fitzhugh ‘Fitz’ L. Fulton Jr., NASA DFRC 747 SCA Pilot; and Donald K. ‘Deke’ Slayton, JSC OFT Project Manager.


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