Hail Columbia!

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najab

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From my perspective, probably the greatest single loss in The Great Forgetting was the STS-107 Mission Update Thread and some of the threads from Feb 2003. Hopefully that thread can be recovered but, failing that, I propose that we record one more time our memories, feelings and experiences of Jan-Feb 2003.<p>For my part, I hadn't been paying as much attention to STS-107 as I did to other missions. I guess part of it was that it was 'just a science flight' which didn't have the romance of an ISS mission. Plus the fact that NASA had disappointed me when the postponed the mission earlier in the year - by happy coincidence I was in Orlando at a conference on the original launch date. But then the flowliner cracks were found and Columbia stayed home.<p>I didn't have NASA-TV in early 2003, so I hadn't stayed home to watch the landing as I might of otherwise. As it turned out, I was out all day enjoying the sun and sand, and as a consequence I didn't hear about the breakup until 7:00 that evening. So, as with Challenger 17 years earlier, I didn't hear about the accident until long after it had happened - not that it blunted the blow in either case. When I found out about Columbia I was at my girlfriend's house playing Pokemon with her and her little brother (he's a real Pokemon freak). we happened to turn on the local news and there it was - fireworks in the Texas sky. It felt like a the bottom dropped out of my world. We spent the rest of the evening watching the news: BBC, CNN, Fox trying to find out what had happened. The worst part of the whole evening was when they started finding remains....that's when what we knew was confirmed: so much for the illogical hope that the crew compartment had held together long enough for bailout.<p>Hail Columbia!<p>So anyway, if you care to, please post your contribution.</p></p></p></p>
 
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blacknebula

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I felt the same confusion that many other people on this board felt.<br /><br />My first reaction when I saw the NASA had lost contact with the space shuttle was, "how do you loose the space shuttle!" I had no idea what had really happened. For all I knew, NASA screwed up, but not in the way I was expecting. When I saw the pieces fly off of Columbia, I thought they were just random tiles that fall off all the time on re-entry. I suppose I was in denial at that point ( I noticed nobody running around crazy on NASA TV ). <br /><br />When I came to grips that she was lost, my first thought was if the program could survive this. Many on SDC said that if NASA suffered another shuttle failure, the space program could collapse. It's comforting to know that instead of collapse, the program is now headed bak to glory.<br /><br />While watching Miles O'Brien report on CNN, I couldn't help but think about the crew. I followed the STS-107 crew in greater detail than any other shuttle crew before. I felt that I had lost a few good friends. A "what-if" then poured through my mind. What if STS-107 was launched on its intended launch date the previous summer?<br /><br />I had my eyes on the news the whole day, and I stayed as far away from SDC as possible ( I didn't go to the main page until the latter part of the summer, since I was tired of reading about Columbia and wanted to read something optimistic, which is what the space program is about, in my opinion ). I formed a hypothesis about an hour after the incident. I thought that some tiles had fallen off, allowing gas to rupture the tires, causing an explosion. I thought that the hyperbolic propellants played a role too, as I saw a flash in the video.<br /><br />As I was watching the news, I solemnly said to myself, "now people care." <br /><br />BTW- Did anyone else record the news that day? It still gives me chills to watch the reporting and see Mission Control offline.
 
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spayss

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I thought: "Here we go again". histrionic handringing that'll grind manned space exploration to halt. 300 Americans will be murdered today...600 die on the roads ...tens of thousands of natural causes BUT...this story will go on and on and on and on and on...and on...and politicians will speak...and we'll have tributes..and fluff about how they died doing what they love best (having their skin melted and leaving orphaned children?) and more fluff about the need to persevere...but I knew it was the end of meaningful manned flight for for a long, long time. Phony grief turns into phony caution into phony optimism over when the next Shuttle flight would be.<br /><br /> It was a tragedy. That's what I thought. . Mostly a tragedy that would be a pain in the butt. Now we're looking at over two years between missions and probably closer to three, if ever. I'm sure glad I never saw it as that big a pain in the butt. I thought, oh well, a year and a half and the next mission will fly. The current inertia at NASA has now become pathetic and an insult to the crew of Columbia.
 
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thecolonel

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It is too bad that SDC lost the posts before/during/following the Columbia tragedy. I wasn't a poster at the time, but I was very moved by the observations, reflections and tributes that everyone left to Columbia and her crew.<br /><br />Personally, Feb. 1st was my birthday and I had spent the night before out a bit "late" with friends to celebrate. I didn't get in until very late and turned on the tv before going into nap mode and saw on CNN, "Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas." I shot up in bed staring at the television in disbelief. "This isn't real," I told myself over and over, sitting and watching the tv silent and still unable to move, my mind wildly shifting from thoughts of the lost crew and their families to the effects upon public perception of NASA and the future of human spaceflight.<br /><br />With school, I must admit I hadn't been paying as much attention to the space program as in the past, but there was a fair bit of press out at the time because of the war on terror and there being an Israeli astronaut on-board as well as the foam strike on the ET. My first thoughts went to terrorism, but as details about the accident came out (especially altitude) it became obvious that such wasn't the case.<br /><br />As horrible as the Columbia tragedy was, we can do her and the crew's memory at least some justice by carrying on.
 
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lunatic133

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Sorry in advance for the length of this post ... I am going to be one obnoxious grandparent someday.<br /><br />For me there were a lot of strange things leading up to the accident. I kept getting freaked out about it, like bizarre premonitions. It mostly had to do with the fact that it was in late January ... and as it happened I'd been thinking about Challenger a lot anyway. I even freaked out when I found out that the superbowl was played on the same date as it had been in 1986 -- the 26th, to be exact.<br /><br />January 31st was a strange day for me. I had two major tests, in physics and math, and a swim meet after school. That morning we watched the announcements on TV like always and they had an interview with Jeff Ashby (STS-112 commander, who graduated from Evergreen), who had been at my school during study hall the previous day -- while I had been in the library obsessively studying physics. I was extremely upset that he'd been right there at Evergreen and I didn't get to meet him, and I thought about that for the rest of the day, vowing to beg someone important at school for his email address as soon as the weekend was over. Which I did not end up doing for obvious reasons. <br /><br />That night I was out semi-late because there was a pizza party to celebrate the last major swim meet of the year. I got home around 10 or 11, exhausted and ready to spend a quiet weekend relaxing and doing nothing. Before crashing into the bed, however, I checked the SDC-like livejournal group I belonged to at that time, and read some posts in the Challenger anniversary discussion. One girl was saying that it would be really bad if something like that happened now, because it would have a lot more permanent negative consequences for space exploration. My last thoughts before drifting to sleep were "It WONT happen again, NASA's too safety-obsessed for that." But even my reassurance didn't sound too sure.<br /><br />That night I didn't sleep too well, I had a lot of nightmares -- on
 
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spayss

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"I still think about STS-107 daily, as probably most of us do"<br /><br /> Really? I don't. I don't think most space keeners do and certainly not most of the population. We're out in the backyard with our telescopes or marveling at the latest Mars and Saturn missions. Columbia was a tragedy but should be kept in some type of rational perspective.
 
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lunatic133

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I think about it daily, I think. I can't remember a day when I haven't thought about it. It's not like we obsess about it, but we ARE space keeners, and it's an everpresent fact hanging over us. For normal people, of course, I wouldn't expect you to. But I believe he refers to "us" meaning we the space obsessed.
 
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halman

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najaB,<br /><br />My first thoughts when I learned that Columbia had been lost were of watching her first launch. After a long drought in American manned space flight, we were coming back in STYLE. Over and over the commentators remarked on how this would be the largest object ever to make a controlled reentry... Then, a blur of images of the launch, watching the landing at Edwards, waiting for the crew to be allowed to egress the vehicle, watching Columbia's first pilot walking around his ship, looking it over, repeatedly punching the sky in his joy at having flown the first real SPACESHIP, ignoring the celebrities patiently waiting to congratulate him on a job well done...<br /><br />Images of Challenger disappearing in a crazy devil's head cloud... Mission Control saying "Obviously a major malfunction." before anyone had grasped the unthinkable...<br /><br />The shame I felt about the decision to let Skylab come down where it may... reports that the airlock section had missed Melbourne by a few hundred miles, a huge, glowing chunk of metal hurtling through the sky...<br /><br />Someone shouting "Fire!", and then, the screams... Seeing a blackened, gutted, charred capsule...<br /><br />Outside my grandmother's house in Oakland, California, looking at a full moon on a beautiful summer night, waiting... "Live from the Moon" the caption at the bottom of the picture said... bulky, man shaped objects bouncing around on an incredibly bright patch of dirt...<br /><br />The way Columbia kicked about 20 feet to the side away from the main engines when the solids lit and the clamps were released... Go, baby, GO! She was so beautiful...<br /><br />Streaks of fire across the sky...<br /><br /><br />Staying home from school to watch a Gemini mission launch... studying the Apollo mission profile... Believing that great things were about to come to pass... The nearly total lack of media coverage when Apollo 17 came back, with no plans for ANY more space flights...<br /><br />Wondering why i <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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rvastro

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I remember the event like it occured yesterday. A friend and I were on the way to the Cape to take a tour and I remembered the landing was to happen is just a few moments. I rolled down the car window to hear the sonic boom better (we were about 15 or so miles east of Orlando International) when my cell rang. A buddy of mine called and informed me that shuttle exploded over Texas. I told him I though he was mistaken. "Dude, we have it on the TV here" was his reply. We turned on the radio and listened to the news. My friend asked it I wanted to head back home or keep on--I wanted to keep going. I have never been in a more somber place. We attened the first memorial service for the crew (if I recall correctly, it occured around 11am) at the Astronaut's Memorial. After that we watched the Space Station 3D movie-but I really can't remember too much of it. I do remember it raining that night when I drove to a buddies house. It was almost like God was weeping over the crew.
 
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davp99

Guest
Great Idea Najab,<br /><br /> That Saturday morning I was up early with my Grandson Jordan waiting for the Landing...at around 8am EST... i was going over with him NASA's History, looking at Different Web Pages and the Like...Always going back to CNN...( we didn't have NASA TV then )...and we were talking about what the Astronauts might be doing and the Such...When they First Reported that Mission Control has Lost Comm with the Shuttle, the Hairs on the Back of my neck stood up...I tried to keep and Upbeat position in front of Jordan, saying, they probably just lost contact due to the Reentry...but as the Seconds went by,,i knew this was BAD...then they showed the Debris burning up in the Skies over Texas...i logged on to SDC and posted what was happening...when i replay the CNN tapes i made that morning, the Same Feeling of Dread still washes over me...I spent the Remaining Time that Morning, Discussing what Happened to Columbia with Jordan...I will Miss those Threads Also... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="4">Dave..</font> </div>
 
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earth_bound_misfit

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I was holidaying in New Zealand at that terrible moment. We were having a couple of beers as you do, while watching the idiot box. The news came on, and i was in total shock. I felt for the crew, but really dreaded what was to come. And my visions were spot on, i knew this would hold up shuttle operations and delay ISS construction. The delay is actually becoming worse than i envisoned, and i guess its not going to get better in a hurry. Still i have my fingers crossed that, that awesome machine will be flying before the year is out.<br />On a side note, it was very strange in NZ around that time too, as the skies were very hazy. It was the smoke from the bush fires here in Canberra coming over. Firsty about 5 days after, then again later in about another five days. The later (or the first time) the smoke was in the jet stream. It was very strange, like a red hazy cloud, and the light reminded me of a solar elcipse. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p>----------------------------------------------------------------- </p><p>Wanna see this site looking like the old SDC uplink?</p><p>Go here to see how: <strong>SDC Eye saver </strong>  </p> </div>
 
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earth_bound_misfit

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****** <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p>----------------------------------------------------------------- </p><p>Wanna see this site looking like the old SDC uplink?</p><p>Go here to see how: <strong>SDC Eye saver </strong>  </p> </div>
 
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backspace

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I sleep with my TV on, and that day it happened to have been turned to CNN. I was drifting back and forth between consciousness somewhere around 8:30 and I first heard Miles O'brien talking about the landing so I kind of sat there listening and then it all went wrong... really wrong.<br />I immediately remembered Challenger and "Where I was When I Heard" . This was somehow worse, being older and wiser, and the total media frenzy that began to develop. I had such an awful feeling washing over me, but I was going room to room, each tv turned to a different channel as various people were interviewed or held conferences. By 12:00 I was feeling burnt out, devastated and fearful of the future, and then I read some utter crap article on the Time site about it being time to cancel the manned space program anyway and I went very nearly crazy for a minute.<br /><br />I then made this entry in my blog:<br />"12:32pm 01/02/2003 <br /> Those of you who know me know I am a space geek. I've been interested in space flight since I was a little kid. One of my favorite anecdotes is that my father was watching the liftoff of Apollo 17 in the hospital waiting room while my mother was giving birth. About two minutes after liftoff the doctor came out to tell my dad of my arrival. The time of birth on my records is the same as that of the liftoff. I loved that, and it led me into studying everything I could about space flight.<br /><br />In 1986 I was thirteen and in eighth grade. they came to us at lunch and told us that recess was canceled, and we should go back to our classrooms for a special announcement. It was the Challenger explosion. I was crying, right in front of everyone. I feel exactly like that now.<br /><br />While it is a terrible loss, it is important that we all remember the true reason man puts himself into these dangerous situations. It's a yearning desire to explore the unknown, and to extend mankind's reach beyond this little blue ball. The astronauts died doing what they lov
 
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