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  Hail Columbia--Where were you? (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Hail Columbia--Where were you?

Posts: 1181
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 02-01-2004 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One year ago today--
I was woken up with a call from a co-worker.
To be honest, like so many others, I just sort of took the landing for granted, and paid no attention to it. When I left work Friday, I knew they were coming in sometime soon, and so when the phone rang that morning, I assumed Columbia was already down safely, so my friend's first words to me were confusing.
"I think they've lost the Shuttle"
My thought process was something along the lines of --"Lost" it? Did they look the last place they put it? How do you lose... Oh. My God. My God. No.
I turned on the TV immediately, but, of course, at that time, there were few answers to be had.
I made a few phone calls myself, as much to let others know as because I needed to hear friendly voices.
I don't know how many hours I spend in front of the television.
The in-laws came into town that day. I think they thought I was just being anti-social. They didn't, couldn't, understand.
Beyond that, the details sort of fade as they day goes on. I remember watching TV, a lot. I remember being on the phone, a lot. I remember that I cried. And I have plenty since. I do remember the gut-wrenching emptiness, because it still comes back easily under certain circumstances.

So--where were you?

"America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow." - Commander Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 Mission, 11 December 1972


Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 02-01-2004 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I flipped on the TV about landing time and the local news anchor said that the landing was "overdue". I thought "these #$%^ing journalists can't even figure out a weather waveoff" and flipped the TV off, thinking Columbia had gone around another rev for weather concerns. About a half hour later, my wife got up and flipped on the radio. I was just heading out the door to the hardware store when the radio newscaster broke in with confirmation that Columbia was lost.

I don't remember a lot of details of the rest of the day, just that I couldn't peel my eyes away from the TV even though they kept repeating the same few facts over and over again. It wasn't quite as painful as 51-L (I knew a couple of crew there), and I think the shock of 9/11 probably immunized me a little more to major calamity, but it still hurt.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-01-2004 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I woke up early that Saturday. I wish I could say it was planned and I had done so to watch the landing, but it was simply happenstance that I rolled over and saw the clock reading half past seven.

I turned on NASA TV while checking my e-mail. I noticed a fellow cS member, Ben Cooper, on my AIM buddy list and sent him a quick message about how NASA's website had been redesigned and debuted overnight.

Ben was also instant messaging with a friend of his in Texas, who was outside watching for Columbia to pass overhead.

Ben and I were discussing how all of NASA's websites would eventually be folded under the main website (and its new design) when he repeated an urgent message from his friend:

"A streak...pieces started breaking off...huge huge huge huge huge...pieces"

I was staring at the TV. Mission Control was reporting not being able to raise the crew, but that was normal right? No one in the control center was acting as if anything was wrong. Ben's friend had to be wrong or was pulling a really sick joke.

" came from the west in one piece...then tiny pieces started coming off and i was perplexed..."

Now I was nervous. Scanning the channels for any news, any confirmation that the crew was okay. Ben found it first, but the news wasn't good -- MSNBC was confirming what Ben's friend had described minutes earlier.

I picked up the phone and called my family. I woke up my sister on the west coast. Then I started calling a network of friends all of whom work within different areas of the space industry. Some had heard, some not.

I knew I had to post something to collectSPACE but the idea of putting the facts into print seemed too real, too final. I had a very small connection to one of the members of the crew. Its not anything to write about here, but suffice to say it made what was happening even more upsetting (if that was possible).

I decided that if I was going to post anything I would focus on the existing theme of this site, and wrote about what to do with debris as it was located.

The full archive of the front page posts are here:

I found some comfort hearing from other cS readers as they posted their thoughts here:


Posts: 480
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-01-2004 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for STEVE SMITH   Click Here to Email STEVE SMITH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dave, I share yuor emotions. See my other post on STS-107; RIP under Free Space.

New Member


posted 02-01-2004 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina   Click Here to Email Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I'm pretty hard on the shuttle, the ISS and NASA, but that doesn't take away from my real feelings of loss for these guys. Yeah, I want other paths into space, but as long as those guys are leading the way, they're doing it for all of us.

I had some longer thoughts about it in the days after 02/01/03, at my blog here:

and here


Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 02-01-2004 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I won't forget that morning, nor the launch which I was able to see in person.

I awoke at 8:40 to watch landing, flipping on the computer first thing to chat with others who were up to watch; Robert and a friend who lives in northern Texas, directly under the path of reentry. For anyone who has read the new book or first chapter (online) of Comm Check by Bill Harwood and Mike Cabbage can relate to this, as it is the correspondance noted there. (see for the first chapter).

My friend ran out to watch and came back in flashing "OMG OMG" in instant messenger followed by exactly what I pasted to Robert, above. Indeed I thought he was joking, but it was about a minute later when I heard Charlie Hobough, CAPCOM, do a UHF comm check. It sank in immediately.

I reflected on that morning today, at the memorial at the Space Mirror at Kennedy Space Center, as well as Friday and Saturday as I viewed Columbia, and attended a memorial in Titusville to dedicate new plaques for the fallen crew members.

Rest in Peace, Columbia.

New Member


posted 02-01-2004 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul   Click Here to Email Paul     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think CNN came on with coverage of the
landing phase of the flight and shortly
thereafter they reported a "possible
problem" with communications from Columbia.
When touchdown time came and went with no
sign of the shuttle, there was no doubt
about a major problem having occured.
I was actually hoping that maybe the crew
had bailed out somewhere over the Gulf and
it would be just a matter of time before
they would be rescued.
Wishful, hopefull thinking on my part. I was
terribly shocked and almost in a state of
denial for awhile.
God rest their souls and comfort their
friends and families.


New Member


posted 02-01-2004 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collshubby   Click Here to Email collshubby     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was about 2 or 3 in the morning here in Australia when my mother rang me from Louisiana. She told me that she had heard that the shuttle had crashed somewhere in Texas. My first thoughts were that it crashed whole, and that the crew could still be alive. Once I turned on CNN and SkyNews and saw the video, I knew there was no hope.

Brian Peter


Posts: 382
From: Leicestershire, England
Registered: Oct 2003

posted 02-01-2004 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dave   Click Here to Email dave     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had NASA TV on the Real Player waiting for confirmation that the de-orbit went ok around 1.15pm that Saturday afternoon..i wasnt really watching it as avidly as usual as we were packing suitcases for a flight to New York on Feb 3...when it was confirmed it was coming down i put CNN on for the 2pm World News and switched between that and SKY News to see if they would trail 'coming up live coverage'..and of course i didnt leave the tv for the next 6-7 hours..
Emotions are strange things?
I felt numb and empty but it wasnt till two days later as we walked from our hotel on W50th and Broadway around a corner into Times Square and saw the ABC News tribute up in lights that my tears was my first trip to America..we watched the memorial service in an Irish bar on Chamber Street a few days later after spending the morning at Ground Zero..something i will never forget was an old guy with a NASA engineer badge on his cap in floods of tears,i dont know if he once was a NASA worker we never asked,but his reaction somehow said it all about that week and the sadness your nation felt after the loss of seven brave souls



Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 02-01-2004 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was asleep the morning it happend. My clock radio came on (to the radio, not that horrible buzzing) at about 8am. Usually, I just hear the noise of the radio and don't pay attention. When it came on, I heard something like "...confirmed Columbia debris is falling over Texas.." WHAT???!!!
I quickly woke up, grabbed the remote to my TV and turned it on and saw Columbia crossing the blue sky in way too many pieces. No no no, not again!!
I then called my parents and told them to turn on the TV to any channel. They immediately knew something bad had happened since the last time I called them with the "turn on the TV, any channel" greeting was 9/11.
I spent about 3 or 4 hours watching and finally turned it off and went outside for a walk.



Posts: 4803
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-01-2004 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We were watching the landing on CNN and couldn't believe our eyes ... I was just thinking & hoping the crew could bail out ...


Posts: 821
From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

posted 02-01-2004 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The phone woke me up. A co-worker who is aware of my passion for our hobby told me to "Turn on the TV, they think the Shuttle blew up." It didn't take long to realize that there was no hope for survivors. Mixed with the sick feeling of loss and grief were immediate thoughts of "it had to be tile failure" and wondering how this was going to affect the future of space exploration.

My wife and I had plans to go skiing that day, and we did so, albeit with a late start. I didn't enjoy myself much, and I had to keep reminding myself to pay attention to my skiing or the day might see another casualty. I definitely wasn't all there.

It was a sad, sad day. One to add to others observed in this past week that I also remember well. May all those lost in these and other accidents rest in peace, and know that we appreciate their sacrifice and grieve their loss.



Posts: 1050
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 02-01-2004 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at home. My dad called me early on, waking me up, and I immediatly went to CS, to find Rodina's post of awful concision: "COLUMBIA WAY OVERDUE"

[This message has been edited by music_space (edited February 01, 2004).]

posted 02-01-2004 09:30 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was also asleep on my couch that morning..had the tv on when my wife called from work and said something had happened to Columbia..I woke up real quick, and flipped the channel over to Fox news..I was heartbroken!!!

Yukon, OK


Posts: 560
From: uk
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 02-02-2004 05:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Madon_space   Click Here to Email Madon_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well i was at home at the time and logged on to the internet and went on Sky News website and it was on the front page (Columbia lost over texas)I turned to the Girlfriend and told her but she didn't believe me, so we turned on the tv and just sat there and i'm not ashamed to admit it but we both cried.
A very very sad day we will never forget.


John McGauley

Posts: 144
From: Fort Wayne, Indiana USA
Registered: May 2001

posted 02-02-2004 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John McGauley   Click Here to Email John McGauley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at home that morning and flipped on the TV early, in hopes of catching a few seconds of coverage on CNN. I got frustrated at the lack of coverage and headed to the computer to call up NASA TV. While flipping through my favorites, I came across a web site that had already caught onto the fact that something was wrong. Yet there was still no coverage on TV. I found myself briefly hoping that someone was wrong, and that this wasn't happening again. Then came the "Breaking News" graphic on CNN, and the rest is history.

skippy in space

Posts: 242
From: Aberdeen Scotland
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-02-2004 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for skippy in space   Click Here to Email skippy in space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was in the University of Aberdeen student shop, I was breaking a banknote to get change for the bus to go into town and post my autograph request letters to the ill fated crew. (I always post them around landing day).

For some reason that day I got my time wrong and thought the flight had ended 12 hours before.

So I'm stood in the line buying a chocolate bar when I hear the news on the radio, Which was a did I hear that and then it was repeated.

So when the bus came I headed to my inlaws who have Sky and comendered the TV, Which upset my Father in law who was waiting for the soccer results..

The envelopes remain un posted and unopened and still in a desk drawer waiting to be posted.

(When Conrad died I was actually writing a request letter to him)

New Member


posted 02-02-2004 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voodoo   Click Here to Email Voodoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I got a call from my wife, who had just heard on the radio in the car that something was up with the Shuttle.

I went downstairs and turned on the TV. I watched for about a minute -- enough to know that there had been an accident, that the orbiter had broken up, and that there wasn't the slightest chance of survivors.

And then I went on with my day. I figured that the media coverage for the rest of the day would be those same video clips of Columbia breaking up over and over again. Additionally, the commentary would be (understandably) poorly informed and repetitive. (Informed content, I can get here). There would be plenty of time for answers.

Rest in Peace, crews of:

STS-107 (2003)

STS-51L (1986)

Apollo 1 (1967)


Cliff Lentz

Posts: 639
From: Philadelphia, PA USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-02-2004 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always set my alarm for Lift-offs and Landings. Days that I have to work, I leave up to my wife. I had to work that Saturday morning, but they knew I would be late. So there I was, my VCR all set and my TV tuned on to CNN, flipping back and forth to MSNBC. Those are the two that I know will at least show the landing. Back on CNN they were talking about getting into the Iraq war. I remember Miles O'Brien mentioning some strange video from Texas. I started to record. Fearing the worse I looked for any indication that this was just instrumentional. When I heard that they had lost telemetry, I knew! I woke up my wife and son and told them. One by one, the networks came on to the picture.
I decided to go to work. That's what I did on Challenger and 9/11, that's what I was going to do then. Maybe it's just how I deal with these things, but that's what I do.
A few hours later I came home to a flood of voicemails including the radio station that I do a five minute NASA update every week. They said they wanted me in for the whole show on Monday if I could swing it. That was the toughest three hours I ever had to do. I wanted to act professional as the NASA people do, but it hurt. It still hurts.
I watched the opening ceremony of the Superbowl yesterday with the STS-114 crew and Josh Groban singing as a Moonsuitted character lifted the American flag on on a small lunar landscape at the 50 yard line. All the old feelings returned.


Posts: 264
From: New Haven, CT USA
Registered: Oct 2001

posted 02-02-2004 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tncmaxq   Click Here to Email tncmaxq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought yesterday's ceremony at the Super Bowl was done very well. It was a nice touch having the crew of 114 there. Anyone know if there is a video of this portion of the pre game activities? I couldn't quite make out all the lyrics of Josh Groban's song.

New Member


posted 02-02-2004 06:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was asleep and my girlfriend called and woke me up to say the shuttle was lost. First thing that came to mind was that they lost radar or something to that effect, nothing major of course. Then I thought why in the heck does my girlfriend know anything that is happening with the shuttle. So I flipped on the tv and there was the very sad reality.

There was a very nice tv piece on the columbia crew shown hours prior to the start of the super bowl which had interviews with the different family members of the crew. This was very nicely done and with the family members reflecting on their loved ones a very touching and personal look at who these astronauts were as individuals.

New Member


posted 02-02-2004 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cindys_1   Click Here to Email Cindys_1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was watching NASA TV, awaiting the twin sonic booms near the Kennedy Space Center, to herald the return of Columbia. By 9:10am it was long overdue, and Mission Control was already saying they had been trying to contact the astronauts for 5 minutes. Last transmission I believe was 8:03am Houston time. As minutes passed my stomach sank at the thought of yet another accident.

When the Merritt Island Tracking Station confirmed that Columbia was not to be found on radar, the fear was real that another orbiter had been lost.

About 9:30 am EST, the first video's were on the air about what had happened. And I believe it was an amatuer video that was first to be aired.

Godspeed to all men and women to have lost their lives in the space program.



Posts: 225
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 02-02-2004 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I woke up that Saturday and went to the grocery store early, because I wanted to get the chore out of the way. There's one cashier who is really loud, and I'm standing in the checkout lane next to hers, when she says,

"All the astronauts DIED"!

I went into a denial like I never have before or since. First, I just thought I'd heard wrongly. Then, I thought she might be talking about the anniversary of the Challenger accident, until the customer asked, "Was anyone hurt on the ground"? I also started figuring out that yes, this was the day they were coming home...but I still went home and couldn't even turn on the TV. I said to myself, "If it's really true, Mom will call me". I started fanatically scrubbing at a sinkful of dishes, and as I got done, the phone rang.

I picked it up, and without even waiting to hear who it was or saying hello, I said "Have you got the news on have you heard anything I was in the store and the lady said the astronauts died please say they didn't..."

I suppose I needed to hear the confirmation from a close relative before I could hear it from anyone else. I told my mother how I'd been keeping up the mission, how there was an experiment on board from a local high school (Fowler High), etc.

I finally turned on the news after that, and cried for hours.

A year later, wearing my own blue flight suit, I watched the whole tribute from the Super Bowl, and was so proud that my idols were finally getting equal billing among the music stars, sports heroes, and political figures. I teared up with the family interviews, then laughed when Aerosmith 'suited up and launched', looking nervous and frantically trying to tighten their straps! I watched in awe as Josh Groban sang "You Raise Me Up" and the STS-114 crew stood with the responsibility of carrying on in their eyes. And I thought about how that moonwalker was a tribute not only to the past, but the future. Where I felt only sadness a year earlier, now I felt a full range of emotion. I have a feeling the STS-107 crew would have been proud of the job everyone did; I was. I'm so glad the game was in Houston, one year later.

I just have a few questions; in addition to the 114 crew, there were other people on the field performing, dressed in what looked like blue flight suits. Were these other members of the astronaut corps, or performers dressed as astronauts? Was the moonwalker's suit a real spacesuit, or a replica, and was it being worn by an actual astronaut?

Thanks for listening, Carrie

[This message has been edited by Carrie (edited February 02, 2004).]


Posts: 269
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 02-03-2004 11:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lewarren   Click Here to Email lewarren     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The other people dressed in blue on the field at the Superbowl were performers, not astronauts.

I live in California, and I was ecstatic to see the shuttle re-entry overhead. This is a rare sighting in California, and I missed one a few years ago because I had the date wrong.

I live near San Francisco, and when I woke up at 0545, all I could see was FOG outside my window. I was bummed out, and just went back to sleep. As it turns out, I should have gotten up to look because someone saw the re-entry just a few miles from where I live through a hole in the fog layer.

When I woke up at around 0800, my first thought was, "Ah, they're on the ground now." I turned on the news shortly thereafter and couldn't look away for several hours.

Overcome with emotion, I was crying and shaking. I very nearly threw up.

[This message has been edited by lewarren (edited February 03, 2004).]

New Member


posted 02-04-2004 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttlefan   Click Here to Email Shuttlefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
for me in Germany it was early afternoon, for no special reason I had switched on the TV, perhaps looking for the soccer channel, when a headline ran through the bottom of the screen,telling the shocking news, I immediately changed to CNN. Just a few days prior to launch I had received a litho signed by Laurel Clark,and as it was on that Saturday I was thinking: Her birthday is in march, why not sending her a letter thanking for the picture and congratulating her for her mission success. In one moment all this was gone and I addressed my wife "they´re all dead, no one can escape that". Now a year ago I was shaken to tears when I read Evelyn Husband´s impressive and emotional book on Rick. I think she could find no better way honouring her beloved one,and it really needed courage to go through that pain again. I would like to share my thoughts by asking who else of you read it and what you think about it.


Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 02-04-2004 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Carrie:

I watched the whole tribute from the Super Bowl, and was so proud that my idols were finally getting equal billing among the music stars, sports heroes, and political figures. (edited February 02, 2004).]

...and then Janet Jackson "launched" and all the shuttle stuff was forgotten.



Posts: 791
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 02-04-2004 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My daughter was participating in a Saturday science program at the local IBM lab and her session on web design was scheduled to start at 9:30. Since she had spent the preceeding night with her Girl Scout troop at the Norwalk aquarium, I drove over to meet her at IBM. I arrived around 9:15 and bumped into the mother of my daughter's best friend, who informed me at the door that the radio was saying that Columbia was overdue. We both understood pretty much what that meant (Donna had been at JPL during the Challenger launch) and since the kids had not yet arrived, I went back to the car and listened to the early reports. The rest of the day was spent listening to various radio reports, including during a drive into New York City for my younger son's baptism.

Rob Joyner

Posts: 1292
From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 02-05-2004 12:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi David,
I was in the parking lot of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex awaiting her return. I was also there for Columbia's final launch 16 days earlier.
I wanted an unobstructed view from trees and buildings, so the parking lot was the best place to be. She would be coming in from the south on the eastern side of the complex. You can't see it before you hear the sonic booms, so I had my video rolling in order to catch them on the audio on her approach. I was by myself and recruited two nice ladies to take pictures with my camera while I video taped the homecoming.
Well, 9:16 AM came, then 9:17, 9:18...
Had they changed course and landed from the north? No. I would still have heard the sonic booms.
I was in the KSC Visitor Complex prior to going out to the parking lot, so I knew the deorbit burn had occurred and that she would definitely be landing.
The ladies I was with didn't know any specifics about shuttles, much less landings, and I was explaining to them about how it would have to land somewhere.
After a few more minutes I finally accepted the fact that something was terribly wrong.
I wanted to believe so bad that she somehow had landed on an interstate or some other flat surface. Or maybe she was low enough in altitude that the crew had safely ejected.
By that time I had asked one of the ladies to turn on their car radio. "No word from Columbia since about 9:00 AM." Within a few minutes I heard the word 'contingency' and all those memories of Challenger came rushing in.
I then turned the video camera off and made the walk back into the complex. It was very surreal and sad inside. Some people were very upset and crying. Others were walking around in disbelief like zombies. Older children seemed confused while younger ones, not realizing what had happened, were playing and laughing.
I have been to KSC many times and have done all that can be enjoyed there. I had planned to travel the three hours back home after the landing, but I ended up staying there all day, just walking around and attending a memorial service at the Astronaut Memorial Space Mirror at 1PM.
It was a long drive home that day, one I hope and pray I will never have to endure again.


Posts: 733
From: The Netherlands
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 02-05-2004 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hoorenz   Click Here to Email hoorenz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was moving houses and this was the first mission I did not follow. I watched part of the launch while doing some DIY, but it was cut off when I accidentally unplugged the tv when I wanted to use the vacuum cleaner. Since the most dangerous part of this launch was already over (I feared a missile attack because Ilan Ramon was aboard) I did not switch back.

I completely forgot about the flight over the next two weeks and on February 1, around the time of the accident, I was in the process of permanently cutting the cable of my internet connection, preparing my computer for the trip to the new home. I had kept the connection intact up to the last moment, because I did not have internet yet in my new home, but never realized I could have watched the Shuttle land.

When I had just arrived at my new home with my computer, some 15 minutes later, my friend Jacques called me on my mobile. ,,Hey, how are you?", I said, surprised that he called. ,,I am fine, but..." He sounded serious, a bit nervous. Something bad had happened, I could hear. "...I think we have a crashed Space Shuttle." "What?" "They have lost contact".

An image of a Shuttle crashing just prior to landing, in the Florida swamps, flashed before my eyes. I had dreamt about it, haven't we all? But he had said: ,,I think", so it must have happened earlier. How can a Shuttle crash before landing? And why wasn't he sure? Hadn't there been any communications? Eye witnesses? Camera's? Why hadn't I watched it over the internet? How stupid to forget - it was even a Saturday, I had all the time.

I switched on the television and zapped to CNN. It was showing a blue sky, with a contrail. The bright dot at the beginning of it was followed by two seperate, bright objects. It looked as if they were missiles, homing in on their target. ,,They shot it down", was my first reaction, still with a terrorist attack on my mind. Then I saw the cloud of debris, which looked too similar to the images we had seen of Mir's re-entry, and I realized the two seperate dots must have been parts fallen off earlier. A rush of disbelieve hit me. ,,They're dead", I concluded, while I tried to remember who were on the crew.

I was immediately aware of the personal impact. Challenger, well... had just happened. But this... Jacques and I had been 9 when Columbia first flew. Se had attracted us to space flight. We were 30 now. To me, it marked the end of a long era and I immediately felt it. Still, I did not feel too emotional about it. It surprised me, but I just didn't. I had not followed this mission and to be honest, I had not missed it. Some years ago, I could not have immagined not knowing who was on a Shuttle crew. Not having the Flight Plan at hand all the time. Not watching NASA TV through the internet during a mission. Yes, it surprised me. But maybe it was just time to move on. Half an hour later, I was on my way to a sports tournament.

The most surreal part of it was the next week. I had followed every mission and no one ever cared about it. Now, I had not followed it and everybody was talking about Space Shuttles. It was even confusing. I had been responsible for the website of our newspaper that weekend and the chief editor asked me that Monday why for heavens sake I had not put any news on it about THE Shuttle, especially me, who was such a fan of spaceflight? I never managed to explain. It just was too complicated.

[This message has been edited by hoorenz (edited February 05, 2004).]

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posted 03-09-2004 11:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cougar20   Click Here to Email Cougar20     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I turned on the tv that saturday and caught the tail end of an announcement about the space shuttle Columbia on CNN. I thought they were broadcasting the landing so I continued to watch when the video of the streaks of fire in the air appeared on the screen. I ran into my parent's room and woke my mom up, told her to get up and turn on the tv. We both watched for most of the day what had happend.


Posts: 1004
From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-18-2004 05:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at work when the disaster occured. You see since i am 5 hours ahead of EST. I came home from work at 5.20 0r so and i looked at the news. It was boradcasting something about the space shuttle columbia. The disaster had occured about 2pm or so our time. My Mom told me that something had happened during reentry. It did not hit me right. The images i saw looked like mirs reentry the previous year. For a minute I did nhot understand and then it hit me. STS 107s cew are dead. I cant belive this is happening. I dropped down on the floor. Whats happening. I started to panic. It is one of the worst times of my life. I could not believe it. Reentry. Everything ayter launch is meant to be a piece of cake right. Columbia is gone. For the rest of the night i taked cnn etc. I still have the tapes upstairs as well asall the papers. It could not be happening again. not like this. I felt deeply sad about STS 51L and her crew even though i was too young for the disaster. ut this is incredible. My favourite crew for a long time are dead. I cant believe columbia is gone. But it is getting better. I downloaded STS 112's full launch from inside ksc. For anyone who has not been there it is an incredible source.

Hail columbia. Hail STS 107.

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posted 04-08-2004 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Server7   Click Here to Email Server7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

[This message has been edited by Server7 (edited April 08, 2004).]


Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 04-08-2004 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Hi Server 7,

Just wondered why would the news media be calling you ? In what way are you associated to the flight of 107 ?



Posts: 1004
From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-23-2004 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this video on STS 107.


Posts: 1181
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 02-01-2005 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just reread these today.
Two years. Wow.

"America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow." - Commander Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 Mission, 11 December 1972


Posts: 3293
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 02-01-2005 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an excellent video by Chris Valentine:

It is video reconstruction of Columbia's final re-entry utilizing the amateur re-entry videos that were shot. It is well worth a look.

He also has an interesting take on the last communications from Columbia:


Posts: 345
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 02-01-2005 11:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for pokey   Click Here to Email pokey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I decided that 107 would be coming in too far north of Houston in the daylight, so blew off trying to watch entry. Decided to go to some garage sales. Was on NASA 1 at the Space Center Blvd. light ready to make a turn to check out some more good spots when the garden guy on the radio said something like, "You know that space shuttle landing? Well, it doesn't look too good. Something has gone wrong." I switched channels and another station said it hadn't landed yet. I looked at the time and it should have landed. I went straight on NASA 1. Something had gone wrong and my group couldn't install some software on the shuttle simulator. We had to keep the simulator the way it was when the 107 crew trained!

There would be an inquiry. Filing cabinets would be locked. Software had to be pristine. I had to get to building 5 right away. I didn't have a cell phone with me then, so I just drove as quick as I could to the main gate at JSC.

My hand was trembling as I held out my badges for the guard to check. The guard had no idea something had gone wrong with the shuttle landing. I was afraid if I said something he wouldn't let me on-site.

Parked and ran into the building. Asked SimControl if the software had been installed yet. No. And it wouldn't be installed until further notice. Good.

I was still under the assumption (hope) that Columbia didn't land at KSC for some reason, but that it landed somewhere else like Tallahassee or Mobile. We just had to find out where it landed or maybe even crash landed.

Told SimControl that I was going to remain in 5 just in case the flight director wanted any scenarios run with the 107 training load. The building was locked down. They made a list of personnel remaining in the building. My name was on a list that allowed me to remain and help with whatever was asked of us. Found a box of 107 flight data files that were used by the 107 crew that were ready for pick up for archive just sitting in the simulator control room. Had them moved to a more secure location.

I watched all the news channels. No report of a landing anywhere. No report of paramedics being called to aid a strange plane that crashed in a field. Nothing.

The reports of the shuttle breaking up over Texas seemed more and more of a reality. The more I channel surfed the more often a coworker kept telling me to "get over it". I'm sure this guy wonders why I currently think he's the north end of a mule going south.

A few hours passed and the flight director made the decision that he didn't need our simulator to recreate anything in the entry. He didn't need to recreate anything because it wouldn't make any difference. The 107 crew were lost. It was an awful thought that now had more credibility than before. I went into the bathroom to have a cry in private before I went home. No in the mood to hear another "get over it". When I walked into the bathroom I remembered how the summer before I was in the same spot and heard a little girl singing her heart out. How out of place but wonderful! I looked at the first stall and could see little legs hanging from the adult toilet just swinging back and forth in time to the little tune. What a welcome sight in such a serious building. Chawala was holding the door shut for her little guest. She saw me looking down and looked herself to see the tiny swinging legs. We both laughed and exchanged smiles.

Clark wearing silky oversized aloha shirts that fluttered as she walked. Me getting the attention of one of their trainers through the glass door as I walked by during one of their training sessions. He looked like he'd been sitting in front of the workstation a few hours too many so I got him to smile and wave back. McCool coming in on my time to get a sneak peak at the new MEDS crew station. He flew an ascent and entry, something like that. Later he was chosen for a MEDS flight. Couldn't think of any other person flying MEDS. Lots of memories.

Every one of the 107 crew I had seen around the simulator building the past few years. None of them were grumpy. They were always upbeat and cheerful. My opinion is that they were all ready to pass into the next life in peace when their time came. It's something that is always in my mind when I think of that unbearable day.

I couldn't bring myself to type this into this thread last year. It's hard to believe it's been two years.

Volunteered to help walk through the East Texas brambles to find pieces of Columbia. I know what the switches and meters look like. Etc. Thought I knew more than most about some of the hardware and could help. I was 47 at the time and overweight. Coworkers half my age didn't put their name in, can't speak for them on why they didn't offer to help. Don't know if my name never got forwarded because someone thought I would have a heart attack or something. Perhaps they had all the names they needed. Just wanted to help. Willing to get my jeans torn up and my fingers cut and pinched. The least I could do.

Have helped get the simulator checked out and ready to go for the crews in training. My company gave my group a technical achievement award for helping with Return to Flight. What an honor. With or without it, I know I have helped in some way with getting back into space.

I'll stop going on and on. Thanks for reading my words.

New Member


posted 02-02-2005 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was doing some tidying up in my garage, with the TV on, half watching a tennis match (Ljubicic v Verkerk) with the sound turned down, whilst listening to BBC Radio 5Live, my favourite radio station. At 2pm (GMT) the news started. I'll never forget the words of the newscaster, Susan Bookbinder, as she said "...And we start with some breaking news from Cape Canaveral, where NASA says it has lost contact with the Space Shuttle..." Before I heard the rest of it, I had run back into the house and turned on CNN, where they were already interviewing Norm Thagard.

It was a dreadful day and, like everyone else who has posted, I was numb. In retrospect, it's strange how I can recall the exact words of the news broadcast; the same happened with Challenger. I remember, as a 15 year old, watching the news with my parents and hearing Sue Lawley (a famous British news anchor) say "It's 6pm on 28th January 1986 and the main news tonight is the major disaster in the American space program - the Space Shuttle explodes soon after lift-off, all seven aboard are presumed dead."

Like most of you, the sense of deja vu was one of the most terrible things about the disaster, the awful feeling in the pit of your stomach that won't go away and the constant feeling of ... if only.

RIP Columbia, Challenger, Apollo 1, Soyuz 1, Soyuz 11


Posts: 2275
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 02-03-2005 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was sitting in my study at home, it was a Saturday, and I was preparing to file my story on the mission for the aeropace monthly I write for, Fliegerrevue. I was browsing the newswires to wait for the news of the landing so that I could finalize the story with the landing.

Well, the story got an entirely different slant altogether. Actually, it became an entirely different story altogether. And it was updated and updated again with the latest news bits until the deadline was over.

THIS story I had prepared until then was only published a month later, in a shortened version, adding a background box about "what was this mission all about after all".

Jürgen P Esders
Berlin, Germany


Posts: 258
From: Bristol UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 02-03-2005 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was playing a board game with my son while the tv was on in the background.The newsreader said "over to nasa for the shuttle landing". I thought this was unusual for the media to take an interest in spaceflight, unless of some bad news.
Then he said "well, the shuttle appears to be late so we will come back to it later". I said to my son "we`ve just lost another crew".
I just knew when entry begins it lands exactly on time. The rest of the day was awful. Seven more heroes gone , in pursuit of our/my dreams.
History will remember them.
I believe the comment of Roger Chafees` father ...."the price of progress is high sometimes , but Roger would want us to carry on" would be the sentiments of todays crews.
Onward to the Mars....

Per Ardua ad astra

Phil G

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