Claim: Photograph taken during fatal Columbia mission reveals large cracks in the shuttle’s wing.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2003]
accompanied by a photograph taken from a live video interview conducted with Israeli shuttle astronaut Ilan Ramon
The picture wasn’t a photo of Columbia’s wing, however: it was a photo of the front inside edge of the cargo bay, and the “cracks” were simply ordinary seams. The black protrusion (resembling a stovepipe hat of the sort favored by Abraham Lincoln) visible in the right-center portion of the image is one of many lugs that the cargo bay doors clamp onto when closed to ensure a tight seal. A similar lug can be seen in this panoramic photo of the shuttle’s cargo bay:
This video pan of the cargo bay provides a better view showing the location of the lug and the structure to which it is attached relative to the rest of the shuttle. Still frames from the video have been misinterpreted as showing a large dent in the shuttle’s wing, but the structure is the cargo bay (with the seams mistaken for “cracks” in the original photograph shown clearly), and the “dent” is actually a ripple in the bay’s fabric covering:
Last updated: 20 September 2006
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.