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Shuttle Disaster

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Re-entry: 1

At 0815 (1315GMT) on 1 February, the astronauts used Columbia's manoeuvring rockets to position the shuttle into the correct angle to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

During its descent, the shuttle would have reached speeds in excess of Mach 20. As it plunged downwards, atmospheric gases pushed out of the way by the vehicle's airframe would have generated temperatures of about 1,600 degrees Celsius.

About 20,000 ceramic tiles covering the shuttle's surfaces were supposed to protect it and the crew from the intense heat.


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