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NASA loses contact with space shuttle Columbia


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from BBC News :


The American space agency Nasa says it lost communication with the space shuttle Columbia about 15 minutes before it was due to land at the Kennedy space centre in Florida.

It was not immediately clear what had happened to the shuttle.

The shuttle's landing was overdue. It had been scheduled to arrive at the the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 0916 (1416 GMT).

Nasa has declared an emergency and there are reports that search and rescue teams have been mobilised.

According to Nasa, the shuttle was about 200,000 feet up and travelling at 12,500 mph when contact was lost over north-east Texas.

Although Nasa did not say what had happened to the shuttle, it warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided and could be hazardous.

From CNN :


Shuttle landing in question

Flight controllers declare a 'contingency'

Saturday, February 1, 2003 Posted: 9:43 AM EST (1443 GMT)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- NASA lost communication with space shuttle Columbia shortly before its scheduled landing on Saturday. It was unclear whether there were any other problems.

Mission Control reported no communication with the shuttle after 9 a.m. EST.

The shuttle was carrying the first Israeli astronaut and six Americans, and authorities had feared it would be a terrorist target.

Fifteen minutes after the expected landing time, and with no word from the shuttle, NASA announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

NASA, while not saying the shuttle had exploded, broken up or crashed, warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided and could be hazardous.

Inside Mission Control, flight controller hovered in front of their computers, staring at the screens. The wives, husbands and children of the astronauts who had been waiting at the landing strip were gathered together by NASA and taken to separate place.

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.

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 January 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.

Science mission

Columbia's crew -- Ramon and six Americans -- completed all of their 80-plus experiments in orbit.

They studied ant, bee and spider behavior in weightlessness as well as changes in flames and flower scents, and took measurements of atmospheric dust with a pair of Israeli cameras.

The 13 lab rats on board -- part of a brain and heart study -- faced the guillotine following the flight so researchers could see up-close the effects of so much time in weightlessness.

The insects and other animals had a brighter, longer future: the student experimenters were going to get them back and many of the youngsters planned to keep them, almost like pets.

All of the scientific objectives were accomplished during the round-the-clock laboratory mission, and some of the work may be continued aboard the international space station, researchers said.

The only problem of note was a pair of malfunctioning dehumidifiers, which temporarily raised temperatures inside the laboratory to the low 80s, 10 degrees higher than desired.

Some of Columbia's crew members didn't want their time in space to end.

"Do we really have to come back?" astronaut David Brown jokingly asked Mission Control before the ride home.

From Sky News :



The Space Shuttle Columbia has been lost to NASA, with the agency saying it "fears for the worst" after losing touch with the Shuttle 200,000 miles above Texas this morning.

The Columbia was carrying seven astronauts.

The spacecraft was due for a sheduled landing at 2.16 GMT. There are unconfirmed reports that "multiple tails" or vapour trails were seen coming from the craft as it was descending over the US.

A NASA spokeswoman said that "we have lost contact with the vehicle and the crew. I am sure that NASA is mobilising in the Dallas area.

One video scene shows what looks like debris falling to earth. It is feared thatr the Shuttle broke up on entry to the Earth's atmosphere.

The Shuttle had its first Israeli pilot on this misson.There were two female and five male astronauts on board.

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Well all I can say is God bless those fallen astronauts and God see their familys through the difficult days ahead. Those fine men and women, despite the ever present danger involved in space flight, took to space to advance mankinds knowledge of the universe and ourselves, and without people such as those new frontiers would never be reached. It's a tragedy and a sad day for America, for NASA, as well as the world. Life is precious so today, tell the ones you love that you still do love them as always.

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NASA just confirmed the loss of space shuttle Columbia

Please spare a moment to think of the families of the lost astronauts:


Commander Rick Husband, US

Pilot William McCool, US

Kalpana Chawla, US

Laurel Clark, US

Ilan Ramon, Israel

David Brown, US

Michael Anderson, US

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I think an equipment failure seems more likely than any terrorist action. I agree that NASA should be better funded, but at this moment in time, I believe there are matters (Iraq, stimulating the economy) that are more deserving of our immediate attention.

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, and authorities had feared it would be a terrorist target.

Man what a bunch of crap. Unless someone infiltrated Nasa and sabotaged the shuttle, there's no way they can damage a shuttle going at mach 10+

Shuttles were old, damn they really need to upgrade their stuff, 22 years old is old for anything, a plane, a train, a car, even boats and cruise liners. You don't keep sensistive technology operational for so long ...

My sympaties to everyone involved

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I don't think the age of the vehicle is a problem. In fact, since it's pretty much stripped down and checked between each flight, I don't think it's really an issue.

The ships internals have all been upgraded to modern technology.

A newer type of vessel would actually be as much, if not more, risky. Consider the loss of the Challenger, which was at that time a fairly new craft. It's tragic launch showed a flaw in the booster rocket O-Rings. It's loss could be blamed on the newness of the craft and its concept.

I do agree that NASA could use more funding though.

Any way you look at it, today's tragedy is a loss for us all. For all we know, one of US might have been on that ship. Who'd be more likely than an Astronaut to enjoy BCM?

It feels, to me, like we've loss 7 of our own friends today.


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we seem to be losing more and more lives now first 9/11 then the war on terrorist then the talks of war with Irag and now this.


Technically the amount of people that die at the hand of criminals and in accidents (cars and schtuff) outweight anything else but large wars) ..

however, those 7 people we're extremely lucky to be able to be what they are, as only few can even think about it, yet luck turned its back on them

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It was an aging spaceframe. The shuttles were not designed to last for this long. Even if they replace every component in the shuttle, the base structure remains to weather the test of time. Well, the first American astronouts to die in space. It was bound to happen but I never anticipated it so quickly. A tragedy to be sure however, I think NASA should move into the next phase of space flight (such as the venture star, canceled due to funding problems). These shuttles are getting old, we need to do something before more crews are lost to system failures.

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The lost of these 7 pioneers are a severe tragedy to humanity.

No matter how badly we beat ourselves up i.e. through war, tyranny, discrimination or terrorism, these pioneers are the ones guiding us to the new frontiers, showing the true ideal of being human.

May god take them in his arms gently and may they rest in peace.

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These men and women deserve a 21 gun salute. They're bravery to even step on the shuttle shows that they have serious integrity and spirit for scientific research.

This may cause a small dent in the scientific community, but it won't last long. I'm sure that there will be another shuttle going up back in space in no time.

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I just ranted on another board (which ends up consisting of more people my age; 15), against people who're pissed about over-coverage and about how they'll make a fking movie out of this. If I appear edgy, or if I'm incoherent at times, excuse. It's been a stressful week already.

I feel for this a lot. It's not quite as much as 9/11, but it's close. I have ALWAYS felt for space. Dreamt of it. Loved it. The space program is such a dream for me. I love it and respect it. So yeah, I'd zone out while watching the coverage once in a while, in deep thought.

I don't like counting this as a "loss in space", because it took place in the atmosphere.

You can find some video of the mission here. This includes some pre-flight CG videos, and some in-mission video clips of the crew and experiments. Ya know, if you're just as itchy as me to have some more stuff to watch or see.

I feel like s*** right now, and I sure as hell can't sleep at the moment. I'll probably head off and mess around with my piano some more. I haven't played since I was like 7 years old, and I'm wanting to get back into music. Or I'll draw or something. Something to clear my head. Long week, long day... I think that's a good plan.

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I doubt a movie would me made of the incident, as it would be very short...

Besides, Hollywood already passed up the opportunity to make a movie of Challenger's destruction (which would've also been a short movie)

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I don't think the age of the vehicle is a problem.

I do. I think it played a role, possibly a major role. Even though systems were updated the frame (infrastructure) of the vehicle was over twenty years old. Every time it launched and re-entered the atmosphere stresses were put on the vehicle.

But at 12,500 miles per hour during re-entry any tiny mistake is multiplied tremendously. I hope they figure it out and correct the problem.

I am saddened by this loss.

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