Six American astronauts and Israel's first spaceman died when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated 200,000ft above Texas. They were commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, mission specialists Michael Anderson, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Kalpana Chawla, and the Israeli payload specialist Ilan Ramon. Husband, Anderson and Chawla were experienced astronauts; the other four were on their first space flight. Six were married, and five had children.
Rick D. Husband, Commander; made his second trip into space. The U.S. Air Force colonel and mechanical engineer piloted a shuttle flight in 1999, which included the first docking with the international space station.
William C. McCool, Pilot; The 40-year-old former test pilot made his first foray into space. The U.S. Navy commander and Naval Academy graduate was responsible for maneuvering the shuttle as part of several experiments.
Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander; 42, went into orbit once before, a 1998 shuttle flight that docked with the Russian space station Mir. The U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and physicist was responsible for the shuttle science mission.
David M. Brown, Mission Specialist; the U.S. Navy captain made his first flight into space. Brown, 46, an aviator and flight surgeon, was working on many experiments, including numerous biological ones.
Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist; born in India in 1961, Chawla earned an aerospace engineering doctorate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Chawla, who has logged more than 375 hours in space, was the prime robotic arm operator on a shuttle flight in 1997.
Laurel Clark, Mission Specialist; 41, a U.S. Navy commander and flight surgeon, was making her first flight into space. A medical school graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Clark was taking part in a variety of biological experiments.
Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist; 47, is the first Israeli astronaut. A colonel and former fighter pilot in the Israeli air force, he saw combat experience in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982.