Mark Kelly Remembers These Misplaced Aboard Area Shuttle Columbia

It was thirteen years in the past that we started to listen to the horrible information: Area Shuttle Columbia had been misplaced throughout re-entry into our environment. There have been no survivors.

I had the dignity of understanding the seven individuals who have been misplaced that day aboard Columbia. They have been: Col. Rick Husband, Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, Cmdr. Laurel Clark, Capt. David Brown, Cmdr. William McCool, Dr. Kalpana Chawla and Ilan Ramon, a colonel within the Israeli Air Pressure.

And I can inform you that they have been courageous explorers, tireless public servants, and actually good individuals. They knew spaceflight was a dangerous enterprise. They flew anyway.

Mark Kelly Remembers Those Lost Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia Mark Kelly Remembers Those Lost Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia

Area Shuttle Columbia crew, left to proper, entrance row, Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla, William McCool, again row, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon are proven on this undated crew photograph. NASA by way of AP file

Their households and family members are in my ideas typically. However particularly as we speak. I hope that these they liked all the time have the respect and gratitude of this nation.

On February 1, 2003, the crew of Columbia was getting ready to return residence. For almost sixteen days, the crew had orbited above Earth at 17,500 miles per hour, conducting analysis into microgravity and its results, together with a variety of different experiments. They traveled greater than six million miles. After which, after slowing the shuttle barely, they put Columbia on the right track for re-entry and a remaining landing at Florida’s Kennedy Area Middle.

However because the orbiter sped east by means of our skies, throughout New Mexico after which into Texas, the crew was confronted with the speedy, cascading failures we frequently see within the simulator. However this time the failures have been actual.


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The final audio transmission from the cockpit got here simply earlier than eight a.m. Central Time, about sixteen minutes earlier than Columbia was purported to land. Columbia’s commander, Rick Husband, stated "Roger" after which was abruptly reduce off.

What Rick and his crew didn’t know was that scorching plasma had entered the wing and was destroying the car’s construction from the within out.

Associated: NASA Exhibit: Challenger, Columbia Wreckage on Public Show for 1st Time

Sixteen days earlier, throughout launch, the roots of the tragedy had taken maintain: A pizza field-sized piece of insulating foam had damaged unfastened from the shuttle’s exterior gasoline tank because the shuttle lifted off, damaging the Thermal Safety System (TPS) that was supposed to guard the shuttle from the acute warmth throughout re-entry.

Over the subsequent forty two seconds, the crew fought bravely to save lots of the car. However at about one hundred eighty,000 ft and 15 occasions the velocity of sound, the crew cabin started to interrupt up. Greater than eighty four,000 items of particles would fall over East Texas.

Columbia was gone.

Associated: Pictures: Area Shuttle Challenger Catastrophe Devastated the Nation 30 Years In the past

I used to be at my home in Houston once I heard that we had misplaced each communications and monitoring with Columbia. Minutes later, I used to be rushing in my automotive down the freeway towards NASA’s Johnson Area Middle. I quickly joined one other astronaut, Mike Good, within the contingency motion middle. We began going via the mishap guidelines — one thing you practice for however hope you will by no means should do.

NASA had deliberate for the hundreds of issues that would go improper throughout a shuttle mission. However we had by no means deliberate for the likelihood that kind of catastrophic accident would occur inside a two-hour drive of the place we have been sitting in Houston. It is a massive planet; the probabilities of that taking place have been minuscule.

However it had occurred.

The making certain floor search confirmed what us at NASA already knew: Our fellow astronauts have been misplaced.

The seven astronauts who perished aboard Columbia have been associates of mine and my brother Scott. Three of them — Laurel Clark, Dave Brown and Willie McCool — had been our astronaut classmates once we began at NASA in 1996. We knew them rather well.

"These astronauts knew the risks, they usually confronted them willingly, figuring out that they had a excessive and noble objective in life."

13 years later, I nonetheless assume so much about them and that they gave their lives in service to our nation and the world.

As I keep in mind these misplaced explorers, I feel so much about one thing President George W. Bush stated in his tackle to the nation from the Oval Workplace, simply hours after the tragedy:

"These astronauts knew the risks, they usually confronted them willingly, figuring out that they had a excessive and noble objective in life. Due to their braveness and daring and idealism, we’ll miss all of them the extra."

We miss them nonetheless. And we honor their and their households’ legacies — certainly one of service and sacrifice to our nation — by persevering with to reply the decision to study, uncover and discover. For the crew of Columbia, for our nation, and for humanity, that may by no means cease.


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