Columbia, The First of NASA’s Orbiter Fleet

Commonly referred to as OV-102, for Orbiter Vehicle-102, Columbia was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in March 1979. STS-1, Columbia’s maiden voyage, launched on April 12, 1981, and was the inaugural flight in the Space Shuttle Program. It proved the operational concept of a winged, reusable spaceship by successfully completing the Orbital Flight Test Program – missions STS-1 through STS-4. The orbiter weighed 178,000 pounds with its main engines installed. Columbia was also the first orbiter to undergo the scheduled inspection and retrofit program. In 1991, Columbia returned to its birthplace at Rockwell International’s Palmdale, CA, assembly plant for upgrades and improvements. Her last flight was on January 16, 2003.

Sixteen Minutes From Home

This song was created as a tribute to the fallen Crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia during mission STS-107.  It was written by Kyle Breese and Mike Ciannilli in 2012.  The song was performed live for the families of the fallen astronauts at the 10th Anniversary Memorial event held at the Kennedy Space Center in 2013.  It subsequently premiered on NASA TV to a worldwide audience.

Forever Remembered

The exhibit was created as the nation’s memorial to the fallen crews of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the Space Shuttle Columbia.  It is located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Premiere:  NASA unveils exhibit featuring Challenger, Columbia wreckage 


NASA EDGE: Apollo, Challenger, Columbia, Lessons Learned Program

Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program Manager

Michael Ciannilli – Biography

Columbia Video Tributes and Image Galleries - Background Image
Columbia Video Tributes and Image Galleries - Crew Portrait

Video Tributes and Image Galleries

Recognizing the contributions and history of Columbia and the men and women devoted to every mission.

Bringing Her Home

The major shuttle Columbia recovery efforts in East Texas required a cast of thousands…

Night Landing at Shuttle Landing Facility - Columbia


Research and Preservation Office

Columbia Research
and Preservation Office

The Columbia Research and Preservation area is a nearly 7,000-square-foot room located on the 16th floor of the “A” Tower of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

Columbia Recovery

Columbia Recovery

The Columbia Research & Preservation Office is also responsible for the Columbia Recovery Office duties/activities. 

Columbia Debris Research


With sights set on the future of space flight, NASA provides Columbia debris material for research to the aerospace and educational industry…

Public Inquiries

John F. Kennedy Space Center,
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
Phone: 321.867.5000
Email: Public Inquiries