It’s Been 20 Years Since The Shuttle Columbia Disaster Over Texas
The last couple of days have been really busy here in Texas with freezing temps, slick roads, iced bridges, power outages, and the like, so busy in fact we missed what I consider to be an important anniversary. Did you know, February 1 was the 20-year anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when it broke apart upon re-entry over North and East Texas? Seems like just a few years ago to me.
Columbia and her crew just wrapped up a 16-day mission in orbit around this beautiful planet we call Earth, and was in the process of returning to land in Florida when tragedy struck.
Unknown damage to the Shuttle's heat shield tiles caused the extreme heat from re-entry to get into the underside of the craft which led to the catastrophic failure. The Shuttle broke apart over East Texas and Western Louisiana which led to the deaths of all on board.
Shuttle wreckage was scattered all over East Texas and Western Louisiana, I'm sure many pieces were never found due to being lost in swamps and bayous.
The STS-107 Mission Crew:
- Commander: Rick Husband
- Payload Commander: Michael Anderson
- Mission Specialist: David Brown
- Mission Specialist: Kalpana Chawla
- Mission Specialist: Laurel Clark
- Pilot: William McCool
- Payload Specialist: Ilan Ramon from the Israeli Space Agency
Columbia took her first flight to space in April of 1981 and had gone back to orbit 27 times before this final flight.
In the months following the disaster, a hanger was dedicated to piecing together the debris while the investigation continued as to the exact cause.
If you were alive in 2003 when this happened, do you remember where you were, and what you were doing? Did you take part in the search for pieces in our area? I was working at ABC Radio Networks in Dallas at the time. We lived in Arlington when it happened, then we saw the footage on TV. Such a sad time in our nation's space exploration history.
Congressman Nathaniel Moran (TX-01) released the following statement in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Columbia disaster:
“Twenty years ago, our nation gathered together to celebrate the return of seven of our finest astronauts from a nearly 16-day mission into Space. This day quickly turned to tragedy upon the disintegration of the space shuttle, Columbia, over East Texas during reentry. Nearly immediately, East Texans joined forces with NASA personnel to gather debris and ensure that the shuttle, and her crew, made it home one last time. Thank you to all who participated in the recovery efforts for these seven individuals, who were lost in pursuit of space exploration. East Texans will never forget this dreadful date and will continue praying for the families and loved ones of the seven heroes lost.”
Congressman Moran also delivered a speech on the House Floor in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the disaster:
A Short Prayer:
God bless the men and women who put on the suits and helmets with dreams and skills that take them to the edge of the cliff and beyond. Bless them and their families and all who support them in their missions of exploration and discovery. Please watch over these brave souls while they strive to advance our species and prove that amazing things once thought impossible are still yet possible indeed.
You can read more about Space Shuttle Mission STS-107 at the website, Space.com.