Hi, everyone. On February 1, 2003, 14 years ago today, the Space Shuttle Columbia, the first orbiter to fly in space, flying as STS-107 disintegrated during reentry over the southern part of the United States. The crew, William McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Kalpana Chalwa, David M. Brown, Laurel Blair Salton Clark and Commander Rick Husband were lost.
Following a months-long the investigation, NASA determined that the problem was caused by a piece of foam insulation breaking off the external tank and hitting Columbia’s left wing during launch, puncturing it. The program was grounded for over two and a half years after the disaster, until late July 2005.
Traveling in space is dangerous. This week’s anniversaries always remind me of that, and how amazing it is that we’ve been able to travel where we have and do what we’ve done. Hopefully we’ll be able to move beyond low-Earth orbit again soon. As terrible as these accidents were, I can’t help but think, like many things, we’re stronger for having been through them. Thanks for taking the time today to remember.