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Columbia Space Shuttle

Posted by danlanders

Shuttle Mission STS 107

Shuttle Comumbia lifts off - disintegrates on it's flight home.

"The Columbia is lost. There are no survivors."

President George W. Bush, speaking about the loss of the Columbia

February 1st, 2003, 9 A.M.

We, as members of the Human Race, have the tendency to become complacent over time. After all, just look at the things we take for granted as part of our everyday life. There was a time when the Internet was only a dream in the deepest recesses of some computer designer's mind. Cell phones were big, clumsy devices that were more a novelty than a necessity. Music came on albums and tapes, not CD's or downloaded as MP3's. All of this was totally non-existent 17 years ago......the last time we were given such a cold, hard reminder of how much we took for granted......the last time a space shuttle was lost. Today, Saturday February 1st, 2003, seven brave people were lost as the Space Shuttle Columbia, NASA's oldest shuttle, and the first of the orbiters to fly into space, was lost just 16 minutes before she was due to touchdown. It was a harsh reminder of just how much the men and women of the Space Program put on the line each time they shrug free the bonds of Earth's gravity, heading up to where only the angels dare to fly. Once again, we have lost those who are heroes in the truest sense. Once again, we are reminded that life is a fragile and fleeting thing, and that it must be cherished, lest it vanish in a flash of light. Yet, in our sorrow and despair, we must not give up the dream. The crew of the Columbia, like the crew of the Challenger before her, felt the risks were worthwhile. President George W. Bush humbly and eloquently stated this in his address to the people, his eyes shining with emotion:

"The same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, but we can pray they are safely home."

As the American President also stated in his speech, the dream of space would go on. To do anything less would be a dishonour to the memories of the Columbia Seven, who in turn did their best to honour the memories of the Challenger Seven. We, the people of the world, must never forget the crew of the Columbia. We must hold them in our minds, in our hearts, and in our prayers. Each one is now a shooting star among the heavens. May their journey never end. And, as President Ronald Reagan stated in his address after the Challenger Disaster, we can only hope that the crew of the Columbia, like that of the Challenger, managed to 'slip the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

The heroes we all want to be.

The launch of the Columbia and STS-107

The STS-107 crew includes, from the left, Mission Specialist David Brown, Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla and Michael Anderson, Pilot William McCool and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon

Commander Rick Husband
Rick Husband had just one other space flight under his belt before he was given the role of commander. "I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time, for starters," Husband, a 45-year-old Air Force colonel from Amarillo, Texas, said during a preflight interview. The former test pilot was selected as an astronaut in 1994 on his fourth try. Space flight was his lifelong passion, along with singing. Husband, a baritone, had barbershop quartet experience and sang in church choirs.

Pilot William McCool
William McCool said one of the most nerve-racking parts of training was learning to draw blood — from others. Columbia’s two pilots were exempted from invasive medical tests in orbit, like blood draws. That meant he and his commander had to draw blood from their crewmates. McCool felt bad practicing on volunteers. "I didn’t want to inflict pain," he said before the flight. The former Navy test pilot became an astronaut in 1996. This was the first space flight for McCool, 41, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas.

Payload commander Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson loved flying, both in aircraft and spacecraft, but he disliked being launched. "There’s always that unknown," he said before the flight. Anderson, 43, the son of an Air Force man, grew up on military bases. He was flying for the Air Force when NASA chose him in 1994 as one of only a handful of black astronauts. He traveled to Russia’s Mir space station in 1998. He was a lieutenant colonel and in charge of Columbia’s dozens of experiments. His hometown was Spokane, Wash.

Mission specialist Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla wanted to design aircraft when she emigrated to the United States from India in the 1980s. The space program was the furthest thing from her mind. But "one thing led to another," the 41-year-old engineer said, and she was chosen as an astronaut in 1994. On her only other space flight, in 1996, Chawla made mistakes that sent a satellite tumbling out of control, and two spacewalkers had to go out and capture it. Some saw this flight as her chance to redeem herself.

Mission specialist David Brown
David Brown was a Navy novelty: a jet pilot as well as a doctor. He was also probably the only NASA astronaut to have worked as a circus acrobat. (It was a summer job during college.) He said what he learned about "the teamwork and the safety and the staying focused" carried over to his space job. He joined the Navy after his medical internship, and held a captain's rank. NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1996. This was the 46-year-old Virginia native's first space flight.

Mission specialist Laurel Clark
Laurel Clark, a Navy physician who worked undersea, likened Columbia's numerous launch delays to a marathon in which the finish line kept moving out five miles. "You’ve got to slow back down and maintain a pace," she said. The 41-year-old Clark was a diving medical officer aboard submarines and then a naval flight surgeon. She became an astronaut in 1996. Clark's chief task was to help with Columbia’s science experiments. Her hometown was Racine, Wis.

Israeli payload specialist Ilan Ramon
Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel’s air force, was the first Israeli to be launched into space. His mother and grandmother survived the Auschwitz death camp. Like his Zionist father, the astronaut fought for his country, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982. He took part in the 1981 air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Ramon, 48, was selected as an astronaut in 1997 and moved to Houston in 1998 to train for a flight. He called Tel Aviv home.

Mission Patch of STS-107

SFI Member Comments:

"Today, February 1, 2003 will be a day that won't be forgotten in the manner of space travel. As most of you may or may not know, the 7 brave and bold members of the Columbia were lost in a horrible tragedy. They, however, will not be forgotten. "

FLeet Admiral Rick J. Styles - C in C

"The Crew of Mission STS 107 were the heroes we all want to be. My prayers go out to their families, that they find the strength to deal with this tragedy, and rememeber that every member of that crew knew and accepted the risk. God Bless them and all those to follow in their path."

Vice Admiral Dan Landers, Webmaster

" just wanted to take a moment to express my deepest sypathies to all my American friends who are most likely mourning this horrible tragedy today. It seems that lately, we spend more time talking about the tragedies. I don't think words can properly express the emotions of the moment. Just know that once again, your friends to the north are grieving with you."

Jim Hunter

  *nbsp;  "I know I'm not the only one expressing my feelings about shuttle Columbia on this day. When I received news of the tradegy I was at work and immediately turned on the radio. I was still in shock and dumbfounded. As is wore, I found myself doing what I had done 17 years ago, I began to cry. When I got home to see the news, I have not been able to stop the tears. But when I saw the shuttle falling, I couldn't help but notice how much it looked like a shooting star. It the heart of tragedy, it looked peaceful and fell gracefully to the Earth. It has eased my grief a little to know that dreams, and hopes are built on stars and wishes come from stars that fall. Each of those 7 astronaunts, represent a star that we must strive to reach. That nothing is unaccomplishable in this world that even the heavens can be reached. They touched the heavens and then they touched the grace of God's hand, leaving behind dreams and hopes and wishes to be made by stars. All dreams are possible...
     "My heart goes out to everyone including the families of the Columbia."

"Reaching For The Stars"
USS Challenger - January 28, 1986
USS Columbia - February 1, 2003


In 16 minutes we'd be home again,
in 16 minutes we'd be on American soil,
in 16 minutes we'd be united with family,
in 16 minutes we'd be done with the toil.

In a moment we knew we were in trouble,
in a moment we knew we were going away,
in a moment we knew we must say good-bye,
in a moment we knew it was time to pray.

In a second we felt the the love of God,
in a second we felt the wind of His wings,
in a second we felt the call to come home,
in a second we felt the joy He brings.

In an instant we were set free,
in an instant we were granted release,
in an instant we were in God's arms,
in an instant we were at perfect peace.

In Memory of the Seven,
Pamela Gayle Smith

Submitted by Kim
X.O. of the Challenger Sim


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