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impossible to look past the tragic and the loss of seven lives February 1
2003. But that day, the world also lost a space pioneer, first of its kind
- COLUMBIA, the pioneer of the shuttle fleet.
The orbiter was named for Robert Gray's Boston-based ship, which explored the Columbia River in British Columbia in 1792. Columbia was the first Space Shuttle to launch in 1981 - but it was never used for docking with the International Space Station. The orbiter, instead, was the ever-circling camel of the fleet, hauling scientific experiments, deploying the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. Columbias was designed for 100 missions - and made her last voyage during the return from her 28th flight.
Take yourself a moment and have a look at the gallery - a reflection of COLUMBIA'S best and worst moments.
All pictures by NASA