For some of us, it is unbelievable that the Columbia tragedy happened 20 years ago, but it was February 1, 2003, when the tragedy happened and Texas became the area where the debris fell to earth.

Last Thursday, more than 100 people gathered at Kennedy Space Center not only to remember the crew of seven aboard the space shuttle Columbia but the other 18 astronauts that have been killed in the line of duty.

Columbia broke apart upon reentry at approximately 9:00 am Eastern Standard Time on February 1, 2003, after a piece of fuel tank foam came off and punctured the left wing of the space shuttle during liftoff on January 16, 2003.

While Columbia was reentering the atmosphere, hot gases melted the major structural construction of the wing in the area where the tile was damaged 16 days before on liftoff. It was determined that the crew only knew of their situation approximately a minute before the space shuttle disintegrated.

The space shuttle broke apart while over Texas just 16 minutes before it was scheduled to land in Florida. Debris from Columbia was scattered all over southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana.

The Columbia tragedy delayed the assembly of the International Space Station in Earth's orbit until shuttle flights could resume which they did with the launch of the STS-114 Mission on July 26, 2005.

Because of the Apollo 1 tragedy that happened on January 27, 1967, where a launch pad fire claimed the lives of three astronauts, the Challenger tragedy that happened on January 28, 1986, and the Columbia Tragedy which happened on February 1, NASA has set aside the last Thursday in January to remember their fallen astronauts.

Space Shuttle Columbia - 20 Years Ago

A look back to the tragic events of February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry sending a wide swath of debris over Deep East Texas.

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

More From Mix 97.9 FM