Today in History: The Space Shuttle Columbia Exploded Mid-Air
On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over North-Central Texas at an altitude of about 40 miles as it was returning from an orbital mission. All seven crew members died, including Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut to go into space.
This incident came years after the Space Shuttle Challenger had a similar fate. The Challenger disaster was the first fatal accident involving an American spacecraft. It occurred on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle broke into bits and pieces off the coast of Florida, 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members on board.