Crew of the U.S.S. Columbia

Bob Hubbard

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Aug 4, 2001
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Land of the Free
On February 3rd, 2003 the U.S.S. Columbia disintegrated while on reentry. There were no survivors of the 7 person international crew.

The last moments of the fateful voyage are below.
Deorbit burn occured at 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT) for a planned landing on KSC Runway 33. Shortly after Roll Reversal #1 (8:53 a.m. EST) at MET 15 days 22 hours 17 min 50 seconds while Columbia was traveling at Mach 20.9 and 224,390ft, flight directors saw a loss of sensor data (offscale low) from the hydraulic systems on the left wing. Initial indications were loss of sensor data near the left inboard part of the wing, followed by sensors on the left outboard area of the wing. At 8:59 a.m. there was a loss of sensor data (Tire pressure offscale low) which caused an onboard alert that was acknowledged by the crew. Communication with the crew and loss of data occured shortly after while Columbia was at a Mission Elapsed Time (MET) of 15 days 22 hours 20 minutes 22 seconds. The vehicle broke up while traveling at 12,500 mph (Mach 18.3) at an altitude of 207,135ft over East Central Texas resulting in the loss of both vehicle and crew. (Reference: JSC Ron Dittemore Post flight Technical News Conference 2/1/2003 3:30pm EST).

Lost were the 7 person crew:
Col. Rick D. Husband (2), Commander
SPECIAL HONORS: Distinguished Graduate of AFROTC, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Squadron Officers School, F-4 Instructor School, and USAF Test Pilot School; Outstanding Engineering Student Award, Texas Tech University, 1980; F-4 Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year (1987); named a 1997 Distinguished Engineer of the College of Engineering, Texas Tech University. Military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, two NASA Group Achievement Awards for work on the X-38 Development Team and the Orbiter Upgrade Definition Team.

Cdr. William C. McCool (1), Pilot
SPECIAL HONORS: Eagle Scout; graduated second of 1,083 in the Class of 1983 at the US Naval Academy; presented Outstanding Student and Best DT-II Thesis awards as graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Class 101; awarded Navy Commendation Medals (2), Navy Achievement Medals (2), and various other service awards.

Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson (2), Payload Commander
SPECIAL HONORS: Distinguished graduate USAF Communication Electronics Officers course. Recipient of the Armed Forces Communication Electronics Associations Academic Excellence Award 1983. Received the USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training Academic Achievement Award for Class 87-08 Vance AFB. Awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, the USAF Meritorious Service Medal, and the USAF Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Dr. Kalpana Chawla (2), Mission Specialist

Capt. David M. Brown (1), Mission Specialist
SPECIAL HONORS: Navy Operational Flight Surgeon of the Year in 1986, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Achievement Medal.

Cdr. Laurel B. Clark (1), Mission Specialist

Col. Ilan Ramon (1), (ISA) Payload Specialist
SPECIAL HONORS/AWARDS: Yom Kippur War (1973); Operation Peace for Galilee (1982); F-16 1,000 Flight Hours (1992).

From :

I believe that the attached picture says it all.

We here at MartialTalk send our prayers and thoughts to the families and friends of the brave explorers, who gave their lives while in the pursuit of knowledge and a shining future for all mankind.

A silent tribute thread has been established. Please, add your thoughts to those already there.

Thank you

Bob Hubbard

Moment of Silence thread :

Original Story:

Space Exploration Thread:
Credit for the image:

Jeff Parker
Cartoonist for Florida Today.

My personal tribute to the crew


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...just a prayer for their families
The Florida Today released a very nice color print of the Jeff Parker cartoon last weekend in their Saturday paper. I'm framing mine.

Cool. That was a very nice cartoon. Sounds like a classy newspaper.

If anyone is interested in a high quality, suitable for framing copy of mine, email or PM me and I can send you the Adobe PSD file or a high-quality JPG (PSD is 35MB, JPG about the same). It prints in photoquality.

If anyone comes across any other tribute images or cartoons or sites, please feel free to add them here.

Fire in the Sky

Prometheus, they say, brought God's fire down to man.
And we've caught it, tamed it, trained it since our history began.
Now we're going back to heaven just to look him in the eye,
and there's a thunder 'cross the land, and a fire in the sky.

Gagarin was the first, back in nineteen sixty-one,
When like Icarus, undaunted, he climbed to reach the sun.
And he knew he might not make it, for it's never hard to die.
But he lifted off the pad and rode a fire in the sky.

Yet a higher goal was calling, and we vowed we'd reach it soon.
And we gave ourselves a decade to put fire on the moon.
And Apollo told the world, we can do it if we try:
And there was one small step, and a fire in the sky.

I dreamed last night of a little boy's first spaceflight,
Turned into me, watching a black and white TV.
There was a fire in the sky, I'll remember until I die.
A fire in the sky...a fire in the sky!

Then two decades from Gagarin, twenty years to the day.
Came a shuttle named Columbia, to open up the way.
And they said she's just a truck, but she's a truck that's aiming high.
See her big jets burning, see her fire in the sky.

Yet the Gods do not give lightly of the powers they have made.
And with Challenger and seven, once again the price is paid.
Though a nation watched her falling, yet a world could only cry.
As they passed from us to glory, riding fire in the sky.

Now, the rest is up to us, and there's a future to be won.
We must turn our faces outward, we will do what must be done.
For no cradle lasts forever, every bird must learn to fly ---
And we're going to the stars, see our fire in the sky.

Yes, we're going to the stars, see our fire in the sky!
There's a fire in the sky, I'll remember until I die.
A fire in the sky, a fire in the sky!

~*~Dr. Jordin Kare~*~

Listen and buy it here: