The name "Columbia" is derived from the name ofexplorer Christopher Columbus, who discoveredAmerica in 1492 while attempting to reach India bysailing west from Europe. The space shuttle Columbiawas named after the first American vessel to circumnavigatethe globe. The voyage by Captain RobertGrey began in 1787 and concluded in 1790. The firstUS Navy ship to circle the globe was also namedColumbia, as was the command module for Apollo II,the first US spaceship to land on the moon.NASA
Did You Know ?
$86,974—Top annual salary for a US astronaut.
$500 million—Cost to launch each flight of aNASA space shuttle.
12,500 mph—Speed of space shuttle Columbiawhen it broke up.
0—Number of US human space flights over 42years, prior to Columbia, where an accident happenedduring a descent or landing.
13.7 billion—Estimated age of the universe inyears.