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Space History Photo: STS-93 Payload Bay Door Closure

space history, columbia, chandra x-ray
Space Shuttle Columbia's payload doors close around the Chandra X-ray Observatory. (Image credit: NASA)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, on July 17, 1999, the Space Shuttle Columbia's payload bay doors close around the Chandra X-ray Observatory inside, while workers monitor the activity at Launch Pad 39B.

Chandra is the primary payload on mission STS-93, scheduled to launch aboard Columbia July 20 at 12:36 a.m. EDT. The combined Chandra/Inertial Upper Stage, seen here, measures 57 feet long and weighs 50,162 pounds. Fully deployed with solar arrays extended, the observatory measures 45.3 feet long and 64 feet wide.

The world's most powerful X-ray telescope, Chandra will allow scientists from around the world to see previously invisible black holes and high-temperature gas clouds, giving the observatory the potential to rewrite the books on the structure and evolution of our universe.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov