Spaceflight Now: Orbiter Overhaul
Spaceflight Now visited space shuttle Columbia in March 2000, during its year-long, routine maintenance and modification period at Boeing's shuttle plant in Palmdale, California.
Orbiter Overhaul Spaceship dry-docked
Space Shuttle Columbia has returned to its birthplace at Palmdale, California for a year-long tune-up that will prepare the craft for a new century of space travel.   FULL STORY
Tip to tail inspection Tip to tail inspection
More than 350 Boeing workers, some of whom built Columbia in the late 1970s, are giving the stubby winged spaceplane a complete physical and installing improved systems.   FULL STORY
Mired in wire Mired in wire
The biggest chore has been inspecting more than 100 miles of electrical wiring running throughout the shuttle, while adding protection to shield against future damage and chaffing.   FULL STORY
21st century cockpit 21st century cockpit
Columbia's biggest upgrade will be installation of a $9 million "glass cockpit", replacing 1970s displays with the latest high-tech gadgetry.   FULL STORY
Mid-life makeover Midlife makeover
Among the other improvements lined up for Columbia are Global Positioning System navigation gear, beefed up cooling radiators and an exterior paint job to replace the NASA "worm" with the "meatball" symbol.   FULL STORY
The Columbia weight loss plan The Columbia weight loss plan
Columbia is the oldest and heaviest space-worthy orbiter in NASA's fleet and an effort is under way to shave off some excess pounds and boost its cargo capacity.   FULL STORY
Finishing the job Finishing the job
Work on Columbia is scheduled to be finished in about five months, with the shuttle rolling out of the plant on September 9. However, NASA is looking at additional wiring tests that could extend the Palmdale visit a few more weeks.   FULL STORY
Flying into the future Flying into the future
Will Columbia ever get to visit the International Space Station, the next chapter in the human exploration of space? That is a question that does not yet have an answer.   FULL STORY
Birthplace of the shuttle Birthplace of the shuttle
NASA picked the Palmdale area in 1972 to become the birthplace of the space shuttle given its close location to Edwards Air Force Base and the talent pool of aerospace workers.   FULL STORY
Columbia VR
Step aboard the space shuttle Columbia for a virtual reality tour of the spaceship midway through its maintenance and modification period.

Video vault
Space shuttle Columbia lifts off on its maiden voyage on April 12, 1981, with astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen at the controls.
  PLAY (297k, 33sec QuickTime file)
Space shuttle Columbia makes the first, and so far only, landing at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.
  PLAY (225k, 32sec QuickTime file)
Columbia lifts off on the first operational shuttle mission in November 1982 with two satellites onboard. STS-5 was the fifth shuttle flight.
  PLAY (328k, 47sec QuickTime file)
A spectacular sunrise launch for Columbia on January 12, 1986, the last successful shuttle flight before the Challenger accident.
  PLAY (403k, 58sec QuickTime file)
Commander Brewster Shaw lands Columbia at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in August 1989 after a classified Department of Defense mission.
  PLAY (387k, 60sec QuickTime file)
Columbia's most recent flight last July launched NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Eileen Collins, the first woman commander
  PLAY (285k, 23sec QuickTime file)
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