Two Historic Columbias

The name 'Columbia' has long been associated with the people and culture of the United States. It would appear that the name originates from the earliest arrival of European settlers, under the command of Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus, in the Americas during the autumn of 1492; since then, adjectives such as 'pre-Columbian' and 'post-Columbian' have routinely been applied to the epochs before and after his arrival. Numerous ships have been named 'Columbia', including two that proved instrumental to the United States' fortunes in space.

The achievements of both of these Columbias were appropriately hailed by Capcom Mario Runco on the morning of 16 July 1994, as seven astronauts circled Earth on board Space Shuttle Columbia. ''On this day, at this moment, 25 years ago,'' he told STS-65 Commander Bob Cabana, ''three of your predecessors began an epic journey that would change the way we viewed our world. Columbia's journey today, as her namesake did back then, is pushing the frontiers of knowledge and science for all mankind. Thank you, Columbia.''

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