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February 01, 2003
Never take space travel for granted.
Two and a half hours ago NASA Mission Control lost communications and telemetry data with US Columbia on re-entry to the Johnson Space Center. Seven astronauts are expected lost. The flag next to the countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center is at half-mast.
Columbia is the oldest ship in the shuttle fleet.
There is reported debris and even body parts found across Jasper County in Texas.
They lost contact at about 200,000, said CBS reports, out of range of any attack. NASA has taken the lead in the investigation. Six Americans and the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was on board. They have been in space for 16 days.
Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take off 17 years ago, Jan. 28, 1986.
[bad radio moment] RADIO announcer: These can be shining moments can't they? It's one of these moments that White house speechwriters must be recommending words to President Bush."
This was a science mission. The other astronuats are mission commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Mike Anderson and Laurel Clark.
Anderson was raised in Spokane, Wash.
UPDATE: Now the media will fill the next hour with speculation and experts until the press conference, announced at 10 Pacific Time. Until then. Be sad. And why do I keep on waking up to this bad news?
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.
Link: Astronaut Biographies