The Columbia Disaster

The Columbia disaster, the breakup of the U.S. space shuttle orbiter Columbia on February 1, 2003, that claimed the lives of all seven astronauts on board just minutes before it was to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Columbia, which had made the shuttle program’s first flight into space in 1981, lifted off for its 28th mission, STS-107, on January 16, 2003. STS-107 was a flight dedicated to various experiments that required a microgravity environment. The crew was comprised of commander Rick Husband; pilot William McCool; mission specialists Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, and Laurel Clark; and payload specialist Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. As Columbia was reentering Earth’s atmosphere, it broke apart over Texas at approximately 9:00 am Eastern Standard Time at an altitude of 40 miles, showering debris across southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana. The disintegration of the craft was recorded by television cameras and U.S. Air Force radar. Its major components and the remains of the crew were recovered over the following month.

The destruction of Columbia followed by almost exactly 17 years the loss of Challenger in a launch accident on January 28, 1986. Ironically, the cause of the Columbia catastrophe soon was determined to be launch-related as well. Films showed that a piece of insulating foam broke loose from the external propellant tank and struck the leading edge of the left wing approximately 81 seconds after liftoff. Bits of foam had detached in past missions without serious mishap, and, at the time of the Columbia launch, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineers did not think that the foam carried enough momentum to cause significant damage. In fact, as demonstrated in post-accident tests, the foam was capable of punching a large hole in the reinforced carbon-carbon insulation tiles that protected the shuttle’s nose and wing leading edges from the extreme heat of atmospheric reentry. Although some engineers had wanted ground-based cameras to take photos of the orbiting shuttle to look for damage, the request did not get to the right officials.

During Columbia’s atmospheric reentry, hot gases penetrated the damaged tile section and melted major structural elements of the wing, which eventually collapsed. Data from the vehicle showed rising temperatures within sections of the left wing as early as 8:52 am, although the crew knew of their situation for perhaps only a minute or so before vehicle breakup. Subsequent investigation by NASA and the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board uncovered a number of managerial shortcomings, in addition to the immediate technical reason (poor manufacturing control of tank insulation and other defects), that allowed the accident to happen.

The most palpable result of the accident was a grounding of the remaining three shuttles—Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour (the last built to replace Challenger)—until NASA and its contractors could develop means to prevent similar accidents, which included kits for repairs in orbit.

Assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) in Earth orbit was suspended after the Columbia accident until shuttle flights could resume. Limited research on the ISS was conducted by rotating two-person crews launched in Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The shuttle did not return to space until the STS-114 mission, which launched on July 26, 2005.

I found these segments from a site called Ranker:

The team on the ground knew Columbia’s astronauts would not make it home and faced an agonizing decision – should they tell the crew that they would die upon re-entry or face suffocating due to depleted oxygen stores while still in orbit? 

In the end, it was decided it was best for them not to know. On his blog, former shuttle project manager Wayne Hale revealed that Jon Harpold, Director of Mission Operations, told him:

You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS. If it has been damaged, it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy, successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done until the air ran out?

This was not the first time foam had broken off in space flights. In fact, it had happened several times before (and without incident), so much so that it was referred to as “foam shedding.” NASA engineers dismissed the problem of foam shedding as being of no great urgency.

When a NASA engineering manager, Don L. McCormack Jr., told Mission Management Team member Linda Ham of his concerns about the issue, he was told by her that it was “no issue for this mission.”

After the horrific crash, Columbia’s debris field stretched from Central Texas to Western Louisiana. A team of more than 25,000 professionals and volunteers searched an area of 2.3 million acres to recover everything possible that remained from Columbia. Due to the large area and extensive number of fragments, pieces are still being found to this day. 

More than 14 years later, only about 84,000 pieces – or 40% – of Columbia have been recovered and are still being studied. 

164 thoughts on “The Columbia Disaster

  1. “Foals at the farm –Buckskin colts, and naming names”
    Robert W Malone MD, MS
    17 min ago
    “Today, for the first time this winter, we woke up to lightly dusting of snow. That is, Jill woke up for the 5:00 AM horse check. The verdict – no babies today! Yesterday morning we were blessed with another colt. A beautiful light buckskin boy out of Caranja, one of our foundation mares. Cara was originally imported from Brazil in-utero, and has been with us since she was a filly. She is 17 years old now, but looks and acts much younger. Jill says that this mare dotes on me and I on her, and I suppose it is true. All our horses are loved, but a few are beloved.

    Earlier this season, we celebrated the birth of Thor, who is Caranja’s great-grand son, another wonderful ( yet to be named) Caranja grandson by Tantra (Caranja’s first born) and now this boy, her son. Four generations represented in this birth cohort – now as a committed Lusitano horse breeder, that is pretty cool, and something Jill and I are very proud of. Thor is now sold, and will ship out after weaning to his new home in another Eastern US state.

    Our dreams for this foal are large. Let me explain: two years ago we decided to keep another one of Caranja’s sons, named Quartz. This handsome young stallion is now 17 hands (very tall) and I think one of the most spectacular horses we have ever produced. These days, my opportunities to take horse photos is limited, so I have almost no photos of Quartz from this year. However, I dug up two of his baby photos and two of him from last summer/fall.

    (Quartz is now being saddled but not yet ridden, as he is still a little young. But he is super sweet and well-behaved.)

    Needless to say, Quartz and this new boy share the same sire (Jade) and dam (Caranja), and appear to be almost an exact match. So, dreams of a matched pair of dappled, buttermilk-buckskin stallions are dancing through our heads. We also have in the “back pasture”, a 3/4 buckskin brother, as well as our nine year old senior stallion “Jade” – who leads this merry band of brothers (and sons). All well -matched stallions. Jade is currently showing in Dressage at Prix-St-George and schooling at Grand Prix, which means that his training will finally be finished sometime in the next two years. Right on track where he should be for a properly schooled Lusitano.

    Our not so little dream is to one day, years from now, have a string of well- trained, well behaved stallions performing in Dressage and for exhibition. It is a long-term goal, and may never happen given all the turbulence in the world and our lives. But for us- this is one legacy of our farm. Some goals and dreams can take years to come true.

    This is how it is with horse breeding. We did not have the money to buy a bunch of beautiful horses all at once, and frankly that approach bypasses the joy and satisfaction that comes with carefully crafting, creating a bloodline which brings to reality a vision of your personal ideal. Year after patient year, through good times and bad. Our Lusitano breeding program is now almost fifteen years old. We purchased our foundation mares slowly, over time. The cost of our senior stallion (Jade) nearly broke our bank account. But we have bred and selected carefully, year after year. Genetics, morphology, personality traits, gaits all must be taken into consideration. We think of our horse’s comfort and security. Every day, every year, we try to improve on what we do and what we are creating.

    For instance, industry standard is to have mares birth in a stall. But over the years, we have changed our stance on this. A mare separated from her herd is an unhappy horse. She is anxious about her status in the herd. Is her family safe, and is she safe? Pre-labor in a stall, they pace, they sweat, they are unhappy. AND… we have found that they have more breach births (babies are in the wrong position for birthing). Breach births are a veterinary emergency and can kill mares and baby horses if not dealt with immediately, and even then deaths can happen. We have had our share of breach births in the past, but not for many years now. Knock on wood.

    We have found mares in the pastures are calmer, they don’t pace about, labors are shorter and since we have stopped stalling them, we have not had a single breach birth on the farm. Now, we still do night checks and try hard to attend every birth. Caveat – if the weather is horrid, we will put a mare in labor in a stall.

    After five years of just letting births happen in the pasture, we have not had a single bad outcome. Best of all, the risk of infection goes way down with pasture births. Sometimes, just letting horses be horses is the right choice. It took trial and error, it took that first “oops” mistake to make us open up to the idea that the veterinarians weren’t right – that there was a better way for horses to bring new life into the world.

    In the case of Caranja’s baby, he was born early morning in the pasture. Due to his being “down in the pasterns,” and a bit weak – we brought mama and foal into an oversized (foaling) stall, where they will recluse for a week until the foal gets a little stronger. Caranja was glad to be put in, she is one mare that doesn’t mind being isolated from her herd when she has a newborn. In fact, since she is the alpha mare in her herd, the other mares seem more upset than she is.

    So, today – our farm manager came back from her four days off. primed her on the details of the birth and foal. But of course, she had the one important question. You know the one… What is his name? Good question – so help me out here. What is his name?

    The Lusitano Horse Association (APSL) requires that horses be named with a word that starts with a different letter each year (in alphabetical order). This year is a “T” year. So, we need name suggestions that start with a “T.” One, two, three – go! What name? Special points to anyone who figures out names that incorporates stones, rocks or semi-precious stones into their names.

    For instance: Jade (sire); Quartz CAL (two year son being retained); Rocha Azul CAL and Rock CAL (one year old sons that we have kept)

    (Jade II Da Serendainha – APSL Approved Lusitano Stallion and our pride and joy.”

    Really cute video bringing the Momma and newborn into the barn, Pat! Just over 1 minute long.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ANOTHER search of ultra maggot’s house in wilmington—they have NOT found the MUST-FIND documents yet apparently…lol
    still no raids tho
    entire article
    The FBI searched President Biden’s Rehoboth Beach, Del., beach house on Wednesday amid an ongoing investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents.

    “Today, with the President’s full support and cooperation, the DOJ is conducting a planned search of his home in Rehoboth, Delaware,” Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer said in a statement.

    “Under DOJ’s standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate,” Bauer added. “The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate. We will have further information at the conclusion of today’s search.”

    Biden purchased his beach house, where he and First Lady Jill Biden sometimes spend weekends, after the end of the Obama administration.

    Wednesday’s search marks the third publicly known time the FBI has searched a property associated with Biden as part of the documents probe.

    A set of classified records from Biden’s time as vice president were first recovered by Biden’s lawyers, according to a statement from the lawyers, on November 2 at the Penn Biden Center. The center served as Biden’s private office from 2017 to 2019, after his time as vice president came to an end. The FBI searched the office in mid-November after the initial discovery by Biden’s lawyers.
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    The White House Counsel’s office then searched Biden’s homes in Delaware last month and discovered two additional sets of documents with classified markings, including in a storage space in Biden’s Wilmington garage. The FBI then searched Biden’s Wilmington home on January 20 and recovered a fourth trove of documents.

    The FBI search of the Penn Biden Center was first publicly reported this week, raising questions about the White House’s claims that it has been transparent about the ongoing documents probe.

    When reporters previously pointed out the hypocrisy of the White House pretending to be transparent only after news of the documents had broken in the media two months after they were first recovered, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed there is “an ongoing process” in the works.

    “The Department of Justice is independent. We respect that process, but again I have taken questions. I can take two questions, 200 questions. I have answered your questions almost every day on this issue and again anything else you may have, anything that’s related to the review, I would refer you to the Department of Justice.”

    Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel in early January to oversee the investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents. Special counsel Robert Hur officially began his role overseeing the investigation on Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bflyjesusgrl 🍊 😎MEGA MAGA GAME ON😎
    bflyjesusgrl 🍊 😎MEGA MAGA GAME ON😎(@bflyjesusgrl)Online
    February 1, 2023 10:16

    Warroom Breaking News – FBI raiding Creepy’s Beach House

    And oh yeah,

    Border Patrol intercepted an Iranian on the terrorist watch list in Texas yesterday. The 38th since this fiscal year started on Oct 1. We were at 98-99 for last year.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just watching Tucker from last night and Andy Biggs from AZ was on – he is introducing articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. They had the numbers down to less than 10K annually under Trump and last year, they had over 300K in the same stretch!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugly Cuss
    February 1, 2023 10:37 am

    Just a reminder……………

    Continuing the COVID emergency measures means……..millions of Americans are getting free or reduced Medicaid coverage, student loan debt is suspended……..and other moritoriums on utility collections, rent, etc., in some areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bewildered but resilient
    February 1, 2023 12:30 pm

    Update on sworn testimony on election irregularities/illegalities taking place before the AZ Senate.

    Busch said she found election law violations in five categories. They were:

    adjudication of ballots,

    cast ballots that didn’t match;

    over 8,000 people who were unable to vote on Election Day;

    a backdoor portal to voter registration records that nonprofits were able to access; and

    around 300,000 ballots submitted to drop boxes that lacked a chain of custody

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TheseTruths
    Reply to TheseTruths
    February 1, 2023 14:42

    More Catturd zingers:

    Knowing the COVID emergency will be over exactly 110 days from now is “science.”

    My butt crack has a better chance of winning the Republican primary than Nikki Haley.

    3 years to flatten the curve.

    I’m not going to set my account to private like everyone else. Turds are public property.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Liked by 1 person

  8. I am adding a short daily prayer to the board. I would invite each of you, if you wish, to also add one or maybe two of your own liking. I do not want to stifle anyone but please limit yourself to one or two religious postings. here’s one I found that I liked.


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