Columbia Spaceshuttle lost

by ARTiFactor on Feb. 01st, 2007

Feb 1, 2003

"The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors. The cause in which they died will continue. Our journey into space will go on."(President Bush)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the Columbia?

It was a Saturday morning. I had just finished breakfast, and was about to leave for a volunteer shift at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The radio was tuned to NPR, and the first reports made it sound as if the shuttle had somehow just gone off radar. Like NASA "lost" it. But it pretty quickly became clear that something had gone drastically wrong...

What were you doing?

posted on Thu, 02/01/2007 - 2:12pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's the text of the speech President Bush gave later that day. I remember sitting in our quiet living room, listening. Here's my favorite part:

" The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.

In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.'

The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home."

posted on Thu, 02/01/2007 - 3:02pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

To me, the moon landing’s always just been history. “Sure, we sent guys to the moon. And, of course, they came safely home.” Many, many successful missions since that one on July 20, 1969, have given me a sense of complacency that even the loss of the two Space Shuttles didn’t change. People in space just seem routine.

But there’s really nothing to be complacent about. And NASA and the Nixon White House quietly made plans about what they’d do if Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong didn’t make it back. (NASA worried that they wouldn’t be able to get off the moon—a certain death sentence.)

According to a memo titled, “In Event of Moon Disaster”:

”…once it was clear that Armstrong and Aldrin could not come home, Nixon was to call the ‘widows-to-be’ to express condolences. He was then to deliver a speech to the nation.

Finally, at the point when NASA would cut off radio communications with the moon and leave the astronauts alone to die, a clergyman was to commend their souls to ‘the deepest of the deep,’ in the fashion of a burial at sea.”

Nixon’s speechwriter, William Safire (perhaps better known for his column in the New York Times), wrote this speech for the president that was, luckily, never delivered:

”Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: The search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared to send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

Kind of gives me chills just thinking about it…

(Here's an interesting blog story comparing our preparedness for a potential moon landing tragedy with our surprise at the loss of the Challenger.)

posted on Thu, 02/01/2007 - 3:55pm

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