Since most of the new coverage of the Columbia disaster is perseverating on potential causes and the presence of the first Israeli astronaut, I’ve been surfing in an attempt to find out more about the mission. One thing I discovered that’s of interest to me is that STS-107 was possibly the last pure science mission for the Space Shuttle program in the forseeable future. As I mentioned earlier, Columbia was the first, and heaviest orbiter, and prior to its rehabilitation over 2000 and 2001, it was unable to reach the orbit of the International Space Station, and was perfect for science missions. Now, the future schedule for the Shuttle program is packed with ISS contruction missions, and science has mostly been displaced.

There were over 80 scientific experiments aboard Columbia, all of which were designed to exploit microgravity in the study of how cells, flames, organisms, magnets, and basic human biology operate. In addition to the crew, there were rats, garden orb weaver spiders, silkworms, fish, carpenter bees, and harvester ants on the orbiter, and countless colonies of human tissue cells and bacteria. There are factsheets for many of the experiments available online; there’s also a website, currently either down or overloaded, for the Space Technology and Research Students (STARS) Academy, a research organization that developed and sponsored many of the research projects. I have no idea how much data was gathered and transmitted back from these experiments, but there’s undoubtedly a great deal more data that was lost in the disaster.

Florida Today is the best source of collateral information on the mission that I’ve found; the site also has an amazing journal that has been kept for the duration of the landing and aftermath.


hi jason,

from what i have read, data on some of the experiments was transmitted during the mission.

someone from rmit university in melbourne, australia who was involved with the spider experiment was quoted in “the age” today, saying that they do have about 90% of the data they needed. - even though he stressed that far more than the spiders, everyone on the program would prefer having the astronauts back.

the age: victorian spiders lost with shuttle

just thought i’d share.

• Posted by: caro on Feb 2, 2003, 7:27 AM

Apparently, quite a bit of the science data was transmitted in real time back to Earth. That’s one positive that comes from this enormous negative…

• Posted by: Jason on Feb 4, 2003, 11:12 AM

sts =spacecraft tecnology science
ture or wrong?
if answer the my question /
thans alot

• Posted by: Farbod on Mar 4, 2004, 2:51 PM
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