Columbia breaks up
For the next six minutes, recovered flight data shows that the shuttle was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain stability. A number of temperature sensors in the left side of the shuttle had stopped working.
At 0859 flight controllers contacted shuttle Commander Rick Husband about abnormal tyre temperature readings. Husband responded: "Rogerů erm..".
Contact with the shuttle was lost. Columbia was close to Dallas, Texas, and travelling at Mach 18.
Analysis of video footage indicates the main body of the shuttle broke apart about 20 seconds after 0900.