A team of Utah engineers and workers helped with the successful nighttime launch of space shuttle Columbia on Sunday, according to a spokesman for Thiokol Corp., builder of the twin booster motors.

"As essential as the hardware to mission success are the team of Thiokol managers and workers who provide launch support for each flight," said Steve Lawson, spokesman for the company, which is based in Ogden and builds rocket motors near Brigham City. For the launch, about a dozen engineers and managers from Utah provided launch support at the Florida's Kennedy Space Center and at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Alabama.Also, 580 Thiokol workers are permanently stationed in Florida, where they assemble the shuttle boosters and launch vehicle, then retrieve the boosters from the Atlantic Ocean after each blast-off.

The boosters that lifted Columbia into orbit for its historic astronomy mission were the 11 set built under Thiokol's current NASA contract. The 13th and last set under this portion of the contract flew on the shuttle flight launched Oct. 6.

The number of motors to be built and their price are periodically renegotiated. Each section of the contract is a separate portion.