In 1981, I watched the first NASA Space Shuttle launched and it lit my imagination. Then in 2003, I watched the Columbia rain down in fiery pieces across Texas like falling star. Oddly, the footage of the orbiter breaking up was captured by my local ABC station, WFAA. The loyal and beloved first Space Shuttle and her final crew of seven all were killed and taking with it the entire Shuttle Program at NASA. 20 years ago today, we lost those seven brave souls and our lady Columbia across the state I live due to a impact on the thermal shielding by a piece of foam during take-off. For those that were invested in the US manned Space Program, the loss of OV-102 Columbia and valiant crew was a traumatic experience. It would take two years for the next shuttle launch in 2005 and while the shuttle program continued for years after, there was always a difference. In 2011, STS-135 was the final shuttle mission using my favorite Shuttle, OV-104 Atlantis. After this, the US manned space program have to rely on the Russian Soyuz capsules for the manned missions to the ISS...that is changing with the SpaceX system. Given the status of the Columbia as the first space-worthy American Space Shuttle (OV-102), she gained much popularity in media. While the name Columbia was certainly not new, this shuttle orbiter of the first launched STS mission in 1981 "Columbia" pushed the name into another level, especially in science fiction. The name "Columbia" is unfortunately taken from explorer Christopher Columbus name. Given the grim realities of Columbus expeditions into the New World, the origin of the name is tarnished. OV-102 was actually named after the privately owned American Sloop Columbia Rediviva of the 1780's that was the first American vessel to circumnavigated the globe and where the name for Columbia River comes from. The Columbia shuttle launched 28 mission in its service life that started April 12th, 1981 with it being the first shuttle to have a female commander of the 1999 STS-93 mission. Today, FWS remembers her and her brave crew. Wherever they are, I hope they know that we still think of them. Due to the popularity of the OV-102, FWS has decided to explore some examples of the Columbia in the realm of science fiction.
The NX-02 Columbia from ST:ENT
The Columbia Orbiter from Cowboy Bebop epsiode "Wild Horses"
The Columbia Orbiter in LifeForce
The Columbia Orbiter in For All Mankind
The Endeavor Orbiter in the movie The Core
The Columbia Orbiter from the TV Series The Cape