CAPE CANAVERAL, FL — It was ten years ago today that space shuttle Columbia broke up in the upper atmosphere above Texas and Louisiana as the world watched in horror at the loss of another U.S. shuttle and its seven inhabitants. The mission of space shuttle Challenger and its astronaut contingent also ended in tragedy in early 1986.
The second shuttle disaster in 2003 brought politics, safety administration, testing and mismanagement to the forefront of NASA and brought sweeping changes to the U.S. space agency. After a piece of insulating foam broke off during launch and struck Columbia’s wing, mission administrators did not think the minor incident would interfere with the shuttle’s re-entry 16 days later.
Instead, the hole created by the foam strike caused the interior of the wing to crumple, causing the disintegration of the shuttle as it waded through the fiery process of atmospheric re-entry.
Where were you on February 1, 2003? Do you remember what you were doing at about 9:00 a.m. that morning when the Columbia disaster happened?