Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Columbia lifts off for a scientific research mission with the SPACEHAB module – a successor to Spacelab – in its cargo bay, for a flight lasting almost 17 days. Columbia’s crew for this flight is Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, mission specialists Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. During liftoff, a piece of insulated foam is vibrated loose from the shuttle’s external fuel tank, causing critical damage to the leading edge of Columbia’s left wing. The foam collision is noticed and discussed internally at NASA, but is not deemed a threat by ground controllers.