Inside the legacy of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that left 7 dead and Nasa in chaos as viewers recall horror
The SPACE Shuttle Columbia disaster resulted in the deaths of seven astronauts – 20 years later, a NASA employee shared what it felt like to witness the tragedy in real time.
The Space Shuttle Columbia had seven astronauts on board and shocked the world when it disintegrated upon re-entering Earth and parts of it fell to the ground.
The ship was boarded by seven astronauts and broke apart minutes before landing over Texas while the passengers’ family and friends awaited their arrival.
Pam Melroy, an astronaut and NASA associate administrator, spoke to NPR about what it felt like to witness the event firsthand.
“The space shuttle is coming back through Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 25, so it will arrive within a second of what was predicted,” she recalled.
“And so there was a moment where we all looked around and said, ‘How did this happen? The space shuttle isn’t here.’ And that’s when we realized it wasn’t going to come back.”
Melroy said her experience with Columbia influenced her whenever she commanded missions into space.
“I was very focused on doing everything in my power to use what I learned to protect the crew in the event of a mishap,” she said.
“And I think all commanders feel that way, but I know throughout the mission I’ve put a lot of thought into using that knowledge and making sure the crew is as safe as possible.”
“Luckily I didn’t have to.”
The astronauts aboard the Columbia were Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, David Brown and Ilan Ramon.
The group had spent 16 days in space, completing a successful scientific mission.
Space enthusiasts awaiting Columbia’s return managed to film footage of its re-entry to Earth, capturing parts of the shuttle falling and catching fire.
Back then, the footage was sourced from the news and broadcast on multiple channels, shocking the country.
While the astronauts believed all was going well, on the day of their departure from Earth, part of the foam insulation from the ship’s outer tank came loose, sealing their fate.
At the time, an engineering analysis concluded that the breach did not pose a “flight safety” issue, leading NASA to ignore the warning signs.
Months after the accident, NASA, after much review and investigation, concluded that the rupture of the foam insulation was responsible for the Columbia tragedy.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7281311/inside-space-shuttle-columbia-disaster-nasa-onlookers-recall-horror/ Inside the legacy of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that left 7 dead and Nasa in chaos as viewers recall horror