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I hang my head in shame - should have posted this yesterday.


On 1 February 2003 the Orbiter Columbia broke up during re-entry at the end of the STS-107 mission, with the loss of all seven crew members. Contact was lost around twelve minutes before the scheduled landing time after ground controllers had noticed strange telemetry readings, including a loss of pressure in both tyres of the port main landing gear. Very soon afterwards, observers on the ground saw multiple streaks across the sky as the vehicle disintegrated. The investigation concluded that a chunk of thermal foam from the External Tank had broken free during launch and struck the leading edge of the port wing, punching a hole through which super-heated plasma was able to enter during re-entry and destroy the internal structure, leading to the break-up of the Orbiter and the deaths of all on board.




Left to right: David Brown (MS1), Rick Husband (CDR), Laurel Clark (MS4), Kalpana Chawla (MS2), Michael Anderson (MS3), William McCool (P), Ilan Ramon [Israel] (PS)



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I remember that day very well indeed. Not only because of Columbia, but it was also the day I lost my first wife.



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