ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM)- February 1, 2023, marks twenty years since the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it entered the atmosphere. This led to the death of all seven astronauts from the STS-107 mission on board.

The space shuttle broke apart when it was over Texas just before the shuttle was about to land. Twenty years after the incident, Elmira Native and retired NASA Astronaut, Eileen Collins, reflects on her memories of the day.

“It was February 1st, 2003. I was home and it was a Saturday morning around 8:00 AM. I knew the shuttle Columbia was coming home so I woke up my two year old son. I wanted him to see what Mom was going to be doing next month so he could see the landing. The crew stopped talking to Mission Control. Mission Control kept on calling Columbia.. and there was no answer. So I knew something was wrong. I knew something was terribly wrong when they said there was no radar return because it’s always there.”

Collins said, “Remembering back 20 years ago to the loss of our friends… It’s a hard day for me. February 1st is a hard day to go through every year.”