The day of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster – level 3

01-02-2003

On January 16, 2003, six American astronauts and one Israeli boarded the Space Shuttle Columbia. At take-off, a piece of insulation fell from the external fuel tank and hit the wing of the shuttle. The heat shield was damaged but it was considered a minor incident. Experts claimed that no serious damage could have happened.

The astronauts went on to carry out a series of planned experiments. 16 days later, the time came to return to Earth. All seven members of the crew were eager to stand on solid ground again. They were supposed to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida only twenty minutes later.

When the shuttle entered the Earth´s atmosphere, the temperature on the surface of the shuttle went up quickly. And at one moment, it was too much for the damaged heat shield. There was an explosion and the shuttle broke apart in the sky. All seven astronauts died in the accident.

After the disaster of Columbia, NASA shuttle missions were stopped until 2005 when the Space Shuttle Discovery was launched into space.

Difficult words: space shuttle (a vehicle for going to space – a spacecraft), insulation (a material that is used to keep something warm or cold), heat shield (a layer of material that protects something from too much heat), carry out (to do), eager (when you look forward to something very much)), launch (to send into space).

What do you think about this day?

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