On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia was completing what appeared to be a "routine" spaceflight. Columbia was NASA's oldest shuttle - the very first launched into space (in 1981). Now at the end of its 28th mission - a 16-day flight dedicated to science - it was descending over Texas and just minutes from its scheduled touch-down in Florida. Then something went very wrong. Within a few minutes, media around the globe were reporting the terrible news: The shuttle had broken apart and its crew had perished in a catastrophic, shocking accident. Columbia and its seven astronauts had suddenly become, in the global public eye, anything but routine." "But who were these seven astronauts? They were described as heroes and saints in their eulogies, but what were they really like? And what was the purpose of their mission? Only a handful of reporters actually covered STS-107 (NASA's official name for the mission) from the start, and Philip Chien was one of them. In Columbia - Final Voyage, he describes not just the days and hours leading up to the launch, but the years of training by the crew. How seven people from different backgrounds came together as a team, the seeming endless delays that plagued the mission, the technological and safety challenges facing NASA, and the ingenuity of the scientists who designed Columbia's experiments. And, after years of reporting on the shuttle program and following the progress of STS-107 and its crew, he brings a particularly personal perspective to his descriptions of the seven astronauts who lost their lives. Includes information on Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon, The search for debris, Was a rescue possible, Memorials, Legacy: the science not lost, charities, etc.