NASA Probing Causes of Shuttle Disaster - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

AUDIO/VIDEO:
Index of audio and video clips related to the Columbia disaster

CHOICE VOICES:
"The Columbia is lost....These men and women assumed great risk in the service to all humanity...The astronauts knew the dangers and they faced them willingly...The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to earth but we can pray they are safely home."-- President George W. Bush

"This is a tragic day for the NASA family but also for the American people." -- NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe

"To have this happen with 15 minutes to go until it was over was just unbelievable." -- Daniel Salton, whose sister, Laurel Clark, was aboard Columbia.

NASA HISTORY:
Notable events in the U.S. history of human space exploration (courtesy: AP):
May 5, 1961: U.S. launches first American, astronaut Alan Shepard Jr., into space, on a 15-minute, 22-second suborbital flight.

May 25, 1961: President Kennedy declares the American national space objective to put a man on the moon.

Feb. 20, 1962: John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth.

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin of Apollo XI spend 21½ hours on the moon, 2½ of those outside the capsule.
Dec. 7-19, 1972: Apollo 17 mission that includes the longest and last stay of man on the moon - 74 hours, 59 minutes - by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt.

April 12, 1981: Shuttle Columbia becomes first winged spaceship to orbit Earth and return to airport landing.

June 18, 1983: Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space.

Jan. 28, 1986: Challenger shuttle explodes 73 seconds after launch, killing its crew of seven.

June 29, 1995: Atlantis docks with Mir in first shuttle-station hookup.

May 29, 1999: Discovery becomes first shuttle to dock with the international space station, a multinational, permanent, orbiting research laboratory.

Nov. 2, 2000: An American and Russian crew begins living aboard the international space station.

Feb. 1, 2003: Shuttle Columbia breaks apart over Texas, 16 minutes before it was supposed to land in Florida.
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