[LINK] Shuttle crash

Stephen Loosley stephen@melbpc.org.au
Sun, 2 Feb 2003 02:52:01 +1100 (EST)

A photographer observing the shuttle and filming states
that the break up was observed over Texas.

 NASA Declares Space Shuttle Emergency
 By Marcia Dunn

 NASA declared an emergency after losing communication with space
shuttle Columbia as the ship soared over Texas several minutes
before its expected landing time Saturday morning.

 The shuttle was carrying the first Israeli astronaut and six
Americans, and authorities had feared it would be a terrorist

 Fifteen minutes after the expected landing time, and with no word
from the shuttle, NASA announced that search and rescue teams were
being mobilized in Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

 Inside Mission Control, flight controller hovered in front of
their computers, staring at the screens. The wives, husbands and
children of the astronauts who had been waiting at the landing
strip were gathered together by NASA and taken to separate place.

 Columbia was at an altitude of 200,700 feet over north-central
Texas at a 9 a.m., traveling at 12,500 mph when mission control
lost contact and tracking data.

 NASA, while not saying the shuttle had exploded, broken up or
crashed, warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided
and could be hazardous. There were reports of debris seen falling.

 In 42 years of human space flight, NASA has never lost a space
crew during landing or the ride back to orbit. In 1986, space
shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

 Security had been tight for the 16-day scientific research mission
that included the first Israeli astronaut.

 Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force and former fighter
pilot, became the first man from his country to fly in space, and
his presence resulted in an increase in security, not only for
Columbia's Jan. 16 launch, but also for its landing. Space agency
officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a
terrorist target.

 On launch day, a piece of insulating foam on the external fuel
tank came off during liftoff and was believed to have struck the
left wing of the shuttle.

 Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, had
assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any
damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.

Cheers all ..
Stephen Loosley
Melbourne Australia