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NASA Searches Columbia's Launch for Problems

The investigation into the space shuttle Columbia disaster starts with a focus on a piece of foam insulation that fell off the shuttle's fuel tank and hit its left wing during launch. Columbia broke apart upon re-entry Saturday, killing all seven astronauts aboard. NPR's Joe Palca reports on the first stages of the probe.

Copyright 2003 NPR

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.