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all over the news on tv and internet. my heart goes out to all the astronaut´s families.

Science - AP

NASA Loses Touch With Shuttle Columbia
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA (news - web sites) lost communication with space shuttle Columbia as the ship soared over Texas several minutes before landing Saturday morning. It wasn´t immediately clear if there was a problem with the shuttle

Fearing the worst, NASA ordered flight controllers to pull out emergency procedures and ordered them to retain all their records.

Columbia was aiming for a touch down at 9:16 a.m.

It was at an altitude of 200,700 feet, traveling at 12,500 mph when mission control lost contact. There was no further communication and no further tracking data.

Reporters at the landing strip were ordered away 7 minutes after the scheduled touchdown with still no sign of the shuttle.

In 42 years of human space flight, NASA has never lost a space crew during landing or the ride back to orbit. In 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

Security had been tight for the 16-day scientific research mission that included the first Israeli astronaut.

Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel´s air force and former fighter pilot, 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 Jan. 16 launch, but also for its landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

On launch day, a piece of insulating foam on the external fuel tank came off during liftoff and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle. NASA said as late as Friday that the damage to the thermal tiles was believed to be minor and posed no safety concern during the fiery decent through the atmosphere.

UPDATE: 9:50 (Florida Time)

SHUTTLE BROKE UP IN MID AIR OVER TEXAS THIS MORNING W/7 ON BOARD (1 Israeli astronaut and six Americans)...

Columbia was at an altitude of 200,700 feet over north-central Texas at a 9 a.m., traveling at 12,500 mph when mission control lost contact and tracking data.

UPDATE: 10:05 (Florida Time)

Local Witness: Loud "boom" sound like a "tornado", then Columbia in "spiral"...

Rescue Team in Dallas / south Texas... but not much hope anyone is alive. STAY AWAY FROM THE AREA ! ! ! !

On launch day, a piece of insulating foam on the external fuel tank came off during liftoff and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle.

Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, had assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.

Challenger Tragedy - This week 17 years ago... : All seven astronauts aboard Challenger were killed on Jan. 28, 1986, when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Kennedy Space Center.

UPDATE: 10:25 (Florida Time)

NASA: Debris are toxic. People in the area (PALESTINE/TEXAS - DALLAS FT. WORTH/TEXAS) should STAY AWAY - DON´T TOUCH ANYTHING.

Search/rescue team in the area, but not much hope anyone is alive. The shuttle was at +- MACH-6 and there´s no way the crew could have ejected...

UPDATE: 10:55 (Florida Time)

Terrorism attack VERY unlikely. At an altitude of 207,000 and traveling at 12,500 mph it is impossible that a missile, rocket, or a plane could even get close to the COLUMBIA.

UPDATE: 12:05 (Florida Time)

NASA didn´t immediately declare the crew dead; however, the U.S. flag next to its countdown clock was lowered to half-staff.

Now, Official word from NASA: The shuttle is gone


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[ This message was edited by: Slapyo on 01-02-2003 12:05 ]

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It was old...just old shuttle. 22 years old. Russian Mir was only 17 years old when it was said that it´s "too old" to be operational. As far as I know this was only shuttle that can dock to ISS. And it was only one that was used to lift ISS each time to the higher orbit. Russia is poor and corrupted. They will not be able to keep up. This disaster is not only destroyed Columbia. It will destroy ISS.

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I did a report on the Challenger accident my senior year in HS. I was 4 when it happened, and now this? I wonder how it could have happened? 7 astronauts. Truely Sad...
I read something about the heat panels were damaged but thought not to be able to cause something like this.. the flag on Coliseum Blvd was lowered to half mast when I drove by it a bit ago. Alex, what´s ISS?

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My sympathys go out to all those affected by this recent tradegy. I hope this does not affect the public´s trust in NASA though, they try their best to avoid accidents like this. I would hate to see space research abandoned, or budgets cut. Hopefully it will have the opposite effect. BTW James, ISS is short for the International Space Station.

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egtdude: Sorry I was wrong Columbia was only shuttle that COULDN´T Dock to ISS. 2 Ones that are left CAN. As far as Docking module - it was made in Russia. So there is no problem to Soyz (I hate when they just don´t translate it to English but keep calling it Russian name:))). Sounds so goofy....hmm by the way. Word "Soyz" means "Union".) to dock to ISS. No Russian did it right and it is indeed Universal Docking module. Just Columbia was too old.

It´s bad to say that but I hope NASA realize that using reusable space crafts is extreamly dangerouse. One wrong move and you´re gone.I know it looks nice. But single use crafts are much more reliable (40 years without the problem) and much cheaper. Well not that pritty.

[ This message was edited by: AleX on 02-02-2003 12:22 ]
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