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July 23, 1999, marked the 95th launch of the Space Shuttle, the 26th launch of Columbia, and the first female shuttle commander: Eileen Collins. The Columbia shuttle’s primary payload was the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and its last mission until March 2002. The payload was also the heaviest ever carried by the Space Shuttle system, weighing over 25 tons. Collins is a former military instructor and test pilot whose first flight aboard the Space Shuttle was in 1995 for STS-63, which involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. Columbia returned to Earth on July 28, 1999.
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