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It's My Story: The Columbia Astronauts
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Leo Enright retraces a trek undertaken by the ill-fated Columbia crew.
Thursday 22 January 2004 8.00-8.30pm

When the space shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entry back in February 2003, seven astronauts were killed. It was their last mission, but not their first. Months before, NASA sent the crew on another mission, one that would test their abilities as leaders and explorers. Leo Enright discovers how they fared and what made this team of talented scientists risk their lives for space research.

The Crew of the Columbia, flanked by their instructors.
Ready for the Off: (L-R) Andy Cline, William McCool, Ilan Ramon, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla and John Kanengieter.

        'Before they were a crew, they became a team'

On an unusually chilly August night out in the wilderness, seven men and women from different backgrounds, religions and nationalities, gathered around a campfire and debated whether or not to climb to the top of Wind River Peak, one of the largest mountains in Wyoming.

None of them were experienced mountaineers. Many hadn't even been camping before. But it was here in the wilderness that the crew of STS-107, as the mission was officially known, learnt the importance of conquering their fears and pulling together as a team - vital skills for anyone interested in going up into space.

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Roaming Wyoming: the team's mountain instructors, John Kanengieter and Andy Cline, out in the wilderness. 

In this edition of 'It's My Story', Leo Enright travels to the Wind River Range to recreate a small part of their journey. Leading him are two instructors - John Kanengieter and Andy Cline from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), who led the Columbia team.

Through their recollections, we discover how the crew made it to the top of the mountain, and what they discovered about themselves along the way. But we'll also hear from the astronauts themselves, in interviews recorded during their time in the wilderness and then later, before their launch into space.
On top of their work: The crew relax at the summit.
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