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Five Years Ago

It's hard to believe, but it's been five years since Columbia was lost. I was up in San Bruno at the time, getting ready to drive home to LA. Here was what I blogged about it immediately upon hearing. I think that most of my initial speculation has held up pretty well. Also check though the February 2003 archives for a lot more space commentary from the time. I wrote three related pieces at Fox News (here and here) and National Review in the next few days.

Was this as traumatic and memorable as the Challenger disaster? No, for several reasons. We didn't watch it live on television, there was no teacher aboard to traumatize the kids, and we had already lost our national innocence about the Shuttle. Still, people might want to post remembrances here.

[Update mid morning]

I'd forgotten about these. Columbia haiku that I and my commenters came up with.

[Late afternoon update]

Clark Lindsey has more anniversary links.


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Tom wrote:

Interesting how your #1 guess for cause (after terrorism, which I didn't count) was right on other than you predicted ice over foam. You even mentioned the leading edge of the wing.

Don't you hate being right?

Fred wrote:

I heard it go over,though it didn't click it was Columbia 'til I turned on the TV a little later & saw Mission Control.I woke the wife up & told her that they wouldn't be showing MC if there wasn't something wrong.

Then the first pictures started coming in.

Frank Glover wrote:

I'd awakened not long before, and turned on the TV with muted sound until I saw a CBS talking head with palm trees behind him, and thought; "Yeah, that's right, Coulmbia's landing this morning."

Sound back on, the first words I heard were something about the shuttle being overdue there at KSC...

Still-bleary eyes flew open. Overdue? A re-entering glider can't simply be *overdue.* If they did the de-orbit burn, they HAVE to be down, SOMEWHERE. Wether in one piece or many...

And of course, things did not get better from there.

Paul F. Dietz wrote:

I first heard about the loss on usenet, in one of the* groups (read them more back then). Quickly turned on the TV and saw the repeating images of multiple trails over Dallas.

Fletcher Christian wrote:

Thanks for the reminder.

As usual, the master (Heinlein) said it all, before even the first unmanned satellite:

Almighty ruler of the All
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe,
Oh grant thy mercy and thy grace
To those who venture into Space.

To borrow from Christopher Wren's epitaph; If you wish to see their memorial, look up on a clear night. They are among those who have died for the sake of humanity, to smooth the path of the rest of us into the Endless Night. Honour them, perhaps mourn them, but remember; there will be more. Many more. Let's make their sacrifice worth it. Nothing worth having is free.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on February 1, 2008 6:07 AM.

Myopia was the previous entry in this blog.

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