Space Cover 450: Columbia over Albuquerque
I drove into Los Alamos, New Mexico where I saw American flags at half-mast. I asked an employee at the museum there, "Who died?" He told me that the space shuttle had just "blown up." Since I knew that the shuttle had no fuel to have been able to "blow up," I ran back to my car, turned on the radio and heard the horrible news of the disaster.
I had seen a post office about a block away and went over there to buy some stamped envelopes, but the building was closed. However a notice showed there would be a pick-up due within the next hour.
Running down to a grocery store I bought five postcards and some stamps and then returned to the post office where I addressed the cards to myself and mailed them. About 10 days later the cards came back, but instead of being postmarked in Los Alamos on February 1, 2003, the date of the tragedy, they were postmarked from Albuquerque on February 3.
Recalling a newspaper clipping about a new camera had just been put in place at Kirtland Air Force Base, which is in Albuquerque, where it stated that they had tested it on the shuttle as it passed overhead. They noted a smoke or debris pattern coming out from the back of one of the wings when the film was processed, and on August 2, the date of my canceled cards, they had turned the photos over to NASA.
The paper showed this last photo taken of the Columbia before it broke up over Texas. I copied the photo, added text under it, and made five copies of the copies and glued one to each of the five postcards. Four of these were given to local Space Unit friends and I kept the fifth.