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The shuttle program may be best known for its two disasters. In 1986, the shuttle Challenger exploded during its takeoff, and in 2003 the Columbia blew apart upon reentry. Both crews were killed. This photo of the 2003 Columbia crew was processed from film found in the shuttle wreckage.
cargo baysAfter many hearings, studies and new safety measures, the space shuttle program went back to business in 2005 with a mission to resupply and change crews at the International space station.
The shuttle cargo bays have carried scientific equipment, satellites, parts and space station supplies.
tilesDespite the increased safety precautions, the 2005 flight of Discovery appeared to be in jeopardy when a piece of foam damaged heat-shield tiles on the underside of the shuttle during takeoff.
NASA scientists discovered that two ceramic coated-fabric gap fillers, which are used to prevent hot gas from seeping into gaps between Discovery's protective tiles, were sticking out about an inch from the shuttle's belly.