Astronauts Remembered On 10-Year Anniversary of Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy

Category: Technology / Feb 01, 2013 10:56AM EDT
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the Space shuttle Columbia’s tragic and abrupt end, on February 1, 2003, when a damaged wing led to the death of the seven astronauts aboard. Back in 2003, Columbia was on its 28th mission, a rare 16 day research initiative, before it disintegrated upon re-entry over Texas. NASA officials lost contact with Columbia minutes before it was due to land in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The world was then forced to watch in disbelief as white trails of smoke were all that was left of the shuttle. Debris from the spacecraft was found in some 2,000 locations across Texas and western Louisiana. According to investigators, a chunk of insulating foam from the shuttle’s fuel tank had fallen off just seconds after liftoff, causing extreme damage to a carbon composite wing panel, which proved to be fatal. At that point in time, NASA had no idea falling foam debris could cause so much damage. NASA has revealed that the Columbia crew was not told that the shuttle had been damaged and they may not survive re-entry. On that fateful day, experts as NASA’s mission control faced the terrible decision over whether or not to let the astronauts know they may die on re-entry or face orbiting in space until the oxygen ran out. The crew included the first astronaut from Israel, Ilan Ramon, and six Americans -- commander Richard Husband, pilot William McCool, flight engineer Kalpana Chawla, payload commander Michael Anderson and flight surgeons David Brown and Laurel Clark. NASA has scheduled memorials Friday for its annual Day of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery and at the Space Mirror Memorial in the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Video Source: Reuters