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Another Tragedy Hits Home:

Another Tragedy Hits Home:

Part of being the best country on Earth I guess:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Feb. 1) - Space shuttle Columbia apparently broke apart in flames as it streaked over Texas toward its scheduled landing Saturday, killing all seven astronauts, six Americans and an Israeli.

NASA didn’t immediately declare the crew dead; however, the U.S. flag next to its countdown clock was lowered to half-staff.

Officials in Washington said that there was no immediate indication of terrorism, and that President Bush was informed and awaiting more information from NASA.

In north Texas, several residents reported hearing ”a big bang” at about 9 a.m., the same time all radio and data communication with the shuttle and its crew of seven was lost.

Television footage showed a bright light over Texas followed by smoke plumes streaking diagonally through the sky. Debris appeared to break off into separate balls of light as it continued downward. NASA declared an emergency after losing contact with the crew and sent search teams to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Just over an hour after the shuttle had been expected to land, officials at Kennedy Space Center announced over loud speakers that a statement on the fate of the shuttle would be issued shortly. NASA warned people on the ground in Texas to stay away from any fallen debris.

It was the 113th flight in the shuttle program’s 22 years and the 28th flight for Columbia, NASA oldest shuttle.

Inside Mission Control, flight controllers hovered in front of their computers, staring at the screens after contact was lost. The wives, husbands and children of the astronauts who had been waiting at the landing strip were gathered together by NASA and taken to a secluded place.

”A contingency for the space shuttle has been declared,” Mission Control somberly repeated over and over as no word or any data came from Columbia.

In 42 years of U.S. human space flight, there had never been an accident during the descent to Earth or landing. On Jan. 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

On Jan. 16, shortly after Columbia lifted off, a piece of insulating foam on its external fuel tank came off and was believed to have hit the left wing of the shuttle. Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.

Columbia had been aiming for a landing at 9:16 a.m. Saturday.

It was at an altitude of about 203,000 feet over north-central Texas at 9 a.m., traveling at 12,500 mph, when Mission Control lost all contact and tracking data.

Gary Hunziker in Plano said he saw the shuttle flying overhead. ”I could see two bright objects flying off each side of it,” he told The Associated Press. ”I just assumed they were chase jets.”

”The barn started shaking and we ran out and started looking around,” said Benjamin Laster of Kemp, Texas. ”I saw a puff of vapor and smoke and saw big chunk of material fall.”

Former astronaut John Glenn and his wife were watching on television at their home in Maryland.

”Anytime you lose contact like that, there’s some big problem. Of course, once you went for several minutes without any contact, you knew something was terribly wrong,” Glenn said.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday there was no threat made against the flight and that the shuttle was out of range of a surface-to-air missile.

Security had been extraordinarily tight for Columbia’s 16-day scientific research mission because of the presence of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.

Ramon, 48, a colonel in Israel’s air force and former fighter pilot, had survived two wars. He became the first man from his country to fly in space, and his presence resulted in an increase in security, not only for Columbia’s launch, but also for its planned landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

”The government of Israel and the people of Israel are praying together with the entire world for the safety of the astronauts on the shuttle Columbia,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office said in a statement.

Columbia’s crew had completed 80-plus scientific research experiments during their time in orbit.

Only three of the seven astronauts had flown in space before, the shuttle’s commander, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, and Kalpana Chawla. The other four were rookies: pilot William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ramon.

Just in the past week, NASA observed the anniversary of its only two other space tragedies, the Challenger explosion, which killed all seven astronauts on board, and the Apollo spacecraft fire that killed three on Jan. 27, 1967.

Well said, SWM22

God Bless this crew and their families.

be back soon

Indeed my sympathy goes out to the brave crew and may god bless and take care of their familys.

“Part of being the best country on Earth I guess:”

Notice how everyone (well not everyone) says that about their country? “best”

Yes, it is a sad day indeed for our country and Israel.

May the families of the astronauts be comforted. May we as countries be comforted and may we find out what the heck happened.

sunny A day without sunshine is like a day without laughter :sun:

Also India

Thanks Stillwantmore22, you just gave better & more comprehensive coverage than all the news sites.

Running a Massive Co-Front.

It’s sad that some of our best and brightest must die in order to push into new frontiers. Yet, this has been the way since the beginning of our great country. The lost lives of those who paved the way for us are an enduring reminder that we, as Americans, must treasure and preserve all that they sacrificed for. It is my fervent hope that our space program pushes forward and takes exploreres to Mars and beyond. I could only imagine the humbling and etherial experience of seeing our magnificent planet from space.

On a lighter note…

I wonder what extraterrestrials would think if they learned that somewhere down there, grown men are doing things to their genitalia that most people could not imagine. Do you think that Martians have red ones?

Jelktoid :trash: More meat for the money!

I think they have red ones! Heck I got this article off “AOL, Breaking News” this morning. I agree with what everyone’s said though.

Originally posted by jelktoid

I wonder what extraterrestrials would think if they learned that somewhere down there, grown men are doing things to their genitalia that most people could not imagine. Do you think that Martians have red ones?

Damn it man, can’t you stop joking for even a minute! This is a serious topic. Things like using a traction system to hang in 0 g will need to be developed. What effect will 0 g have on pumping ( could be some horrible and very messy accidents)? I could see huge gains being possible under zero gravity conditions.

Running a Massive Co-Front.


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