updated 3-6-2006

compiled by Dee Finney


12-31-2002 - DREAM - I was looking at a sheet of paper or a computer screen - that had 11 lines on it.
The first 10 lines each had two Barbie Doll dresses on it. No two were the same - each dress was of a different color.

Then I saw the 11th line, and instantly had a vision of two astronauts close up - from the eyebrows up - and their heads
were full of smeared dirt. One of the men had light sandy-brown hair.


I thought this would happen in November - so my counting was off....

This is sooo sad.

Another dream from a reader:

Date: 2/1/2003 3:51:49 PM Pacific Standard Time

From: northsun@xxx


Dee~Thanks for putting this together.


I had dozed off asleep this morn around 4:45am AST(7:45amCST). I dreamed of a large JET airplane pulling up. It was rather dim light. I saw an 'old' man pilot. I and another shadowed person knew we were to get on this jet. I wondered at the time if this old guy could fly this plane well enough. We took off and had a short ride when I heard a loudspeaker saying, "There is an emergency and we'll have to land." I thought, "Oh boy.. there's no place to land this big plane.." but the pilot said, "Don't worry, I'll get it down."

We started a fast descent and suddenly I found myself standing free on top of the plane as it whooshed down .. arms in the air and feeling elated.. I could feel the wind whooshing by me,but I remained still with nothing holding me there. I looked down and saw a very narrow strip of green land.. between trees and highways, but watched as that pilot brought this big plane right down on a cushy, soft, gentle landing. It was amazing.

I popped wide awake about 5:30am(8:30amCentral) I turned on the news and they were announcing the loss of communication with the shuttle. I hadn't even remembered it was due to land this morn.. and then remembered my dream,s ynching with this event. It was of another dimension, for sure, but I saw a padded safe landing for the astronauts, wherever they are now. They are all ok.


Date: 2/2/2003 3:09:53 PM Pacific Standard Time

From: northsun@xxx


Thanks, Dee. I saw you posted my dream. The 'nauts had a destiny to bravely fulfil. I remember seeing the "Challenger" crew of 7 at that time. They also were protected and 'taken home' in a similar manner. At that time I was given that they were an ancient spaceship crew come to earth in Lemurian time and agreed to leave earth together. I get a similar feeling of this Columbia crew of 7. They were 'lured' to be together again for this event. It may not be 'written in stone', but they knew it was a possible outcome and are given all credit and love. They all are the 'Magnificent 7s' in our time. A lot of good things will come forth from their sacrifice. It does bring attention to needed changes.

I went outdoors around 1am on Feb.2,2003.. Alaska standard time.. and just in time to see the most intense and magnificent aurora begin. It shot huge arcs, circles words and waves right overhead at my place in Anchorage. It was awesome and like a ray of hope and promise of much greater things at work. I gave a prayer of thanks for this sign in the heavens.

Today on Feb.2 is the 2nd anniversary of my beloved hubby, Bruce's departure from earth. He is a great energy and is in contact with all on that realm that works with us here in form.

There was a lot of number symbology on 2/1/03..a #8 day. It was 17yrs.since Challenger event..#8. Groups of #7 left earth with the Challenger and Columbia. On the same day we lost #7 teens in an avalanche. They were a part of a party of #17 people..#8 again.

I'm sure there are more significant nos. and events, but these stood out. #8 represents the power, money, responsibility.. management of the vehicles and tech stuff..#7 is the groups of souls that left and were of this 'mystical' realm. They were all 'the good guys'.. in essenc. It's a kind of twisted fate.. but always for learning and aiding for others in this process.

Love and Peace.. The Dove is en flight!


EARTH: CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronauts videotaping thunderstorms from the space shuttle Columbia captured what scientists said on Thursday was a never-before-seen red glowing arc of light paralleling the curve of the Earth.  
.............SPRITES, below

Cool Description, er...electrical anomalies:

Scientists were excited by the news that astronauts on Sunday captured the first-ever pictures of elves taken from space with a calibrated camera. The shuttle and its seven-member crew, which includes Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, are on a 16-day science mission that began on Jan. 16.


At approximately 05:53 PST (13:53 UTC) sensors on Columbia begin showing indications of trouble. A San Francisco astronomer snapped photos of the shuttle just before its disintegration, which depicts a "mysterious purple streak" later judged by investigators to be a camera artifact.

At about 05:54 PST (13:54 UTC), a California news photographer observed pieces breaking away from Columbia as it passed overhead, as well as a red flare coming from the shuttle itself.

At about 06:00 PST (14:00 UTC) on February 1, 2003 NASA's Mission Control at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas lost with the space shuttle Columbia.

NASA's Space Shuttle Program Manager, Ron Dittemore, reported that "The first indication was loss of temperature sensors and hydraulic systems on the left wing. They were followed seconds and minutes later by several other problems, including loss of tire pressure indications on the left main gear and then indications of excessive structural heating."

Analysis of 31 seconds of telemetry data which had initially been filtered out because of data corruption within it showed the shuttle fighting to maintain its orientation, eventually using maximum thrust from its reaction control system jets.

Still shots were taken from a video on a documentary on the National Geographic Channel presented 9-12-04
The 8 second time exposed photo was taken by an Amateur Astronomer who wishes to remain unidentified despite being on television on the documentary on the National Geographic Channel and has asked his name to be removed from this page
and images deleted despite the fact that they are available by watching the video. 
The lightning bolt hit the shuttle 2 seconds before it started breaking up. 
The shuttle exploded 6 minutes later.
NASA sent an agent to pick up the film and the camera from the photographer and forbid him to publish it.
NASA calls this a camera wobble or a ghost or artifact in the camera.
They prefer to blame the missing piece of insulating foam for the accident.

The "mysterious purple streak"

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on February 5, 2003, that an unnamed amateur San Francisco astronomer had imaged Columbia with a Nikon 880 digital camera at around the time the shuttle first started showing indications of trouble, at an altitude of some 40 miles. The Chronicle reported that "in the critical shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail [produced by the shuttle], the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades." This photograph was shown on the National Geographic Program on 9-12-04. The camera in question was sent to Houston for further investigation by NASA. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board subsequently concluded that this was an artifact caused by a faulty camera. Nikon has said that the model of camera used is known to occasionally produce a purple fringe on photographs as a result of "color interpolation combined with chromatic aberration", an effect that has been reproduced by independent reviewers. Purple fringing is a problem with many types of digital camera - not just the Nikon 880 - as a result of the optical phenomenon of chromatic aberration.

However, some have suggested that the United States Air Force shot the craft down with a laser (accidentally or deliberately). This explanation has attracted little mainstream support and is generally regarded as a fringe conspiracy theory. It would also not explain the image captured by the San Francisco astronomer, as the beam of the high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) system used by the Air Force operates at the infrared wavelength and so is not visible in visible light. [4] (Link)

It has also been proposed that this streak may have been a bolt of positive lightning; NASA has discounted this possibility.

Positive lightning is not the ordinary type of lightning that regularly hits airplanes, its much more powerful and lasts up to 10 or more seconds with a heat that is hotter than the sun . In conjunction with the damage done to Columbia on lift off... it contributed to the disaster. A photo on a documentary on the History Channel showing a purple colored lightning bolt intercepting Columbia's plasma trail. There was a sound in Columbia's flight path that was picked up by sensitive equipment and it has the same profile of a certain type of lightning the positive charged lightning bolt that is part of the sprite.

Positive lightning makes up less than 5% of all lightning. It occurs when the stepped leader forms at the positively charged cloud tops, with the consequence that a positively charged streamer issues from the ground. The overall effect is a discharge of positive charges to the ground.

Research carried out after the discovery of positive lightning in the 1970s showed that positive lightning bolts are typically six to ten times more powerful than negative bolts, last around ten times longer, and can strike several miles distant from the clouds. During a positive lighting strike, huge quantities of ELF and VLF radio waves are generated.

NOTE: 10-18-07 - David Sereda requested my captured photographs which I retrieved from a National Geographic video approximately 2005.
I had originally published them on this page, and was forced to remove both the photographs and the photographers name from this page when they were discovered here.   The You Tube video by David Sereda below is based on the photographs I sent him earlier this year in 2007.




Photographic Analysis Confirms that Space Shuttle Columbia was Destroyed by a  Plasma Beam Weapon - Exopolitics Comment #59

Further photographic analysis has recently been completed on a series of five photos taken by an amateur astronomer on a San Francisco hill at 5:53 am on February 1, 2003, showing the Space Shuttle Columbia being hit by what appears to be a lighting bolt shortly before it crashed seven minutes later. According to David Sereda, who conducted the photographic analysis, the length of the five exposures conclusively show that it was not a form of 'super' lightning that hit the Columbia, but an advanced plasma beam weapon of some kind. Sereda documented his analysis in a recently released video, From Here to Andromeda, extracts of which were uploaded this week to YouTube. The series of five photos were originally submitted to NASA to help it in its investigation of the Columbia tragedy by the astronomer who chose to remain anonymous. His submission of the photos to NASA was covered by a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle and appeared in a story on February 5, 2003. The reporter claimed: "In the critical shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades."

Continued at:


HSF - STS 107  scheduled landing - 2-1-2003 -  broke up and crashed on landing


The space shuttle Columbia broke up today as it descended over central Texas toward a planned landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Seven crew members were aboard. A Bush administration spokesman said the shuttle's altitude -- over 200,000 feet -- made it "highly unlikely" that the shuttle fell victim to a terrorist act.

Space Shuttle Apparently Disintegrates

Space Shuttle Columbia Apparently Disintegrates in Flames Over Texas Minutes Before Scheduled Landing

The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Feb. 1, 2003 —

Space shuttle Columbia apparently disintegrated in flames over Texas on Saturday minutes before it was to land in Florida. TV video showed what appeared to be falling debris, as NASA declared an emergency and warned residents to beware of falling objects.

Six Americans and Israel's first astronaut were on board.

In north Texas, people reported hearing "a big bang" at about 9 a.m., the same time all radio and data communication with the shuttle was lost.

Television stations showed what appeared to be flaming debris falling through the sky, and NASA warned Texas residents to beware of any falling objects. NASA also announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

Inside Mission Control, flight controllers 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 secluded place.

"A contingency for the space shuttle has been declared," Mission Control repeated over and over as no word or any data came from Columbia.

In 42 years of U.S. human space flight, there had never been an accident during the descent to Earth or landing. On Jan. 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

On Jan. 16, shortly after Columbia lifted off, a piece of insulating foam on its external fuel tank came off and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle. Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.

Columbia had been aiming for a landing at 9:16 a.m. Saturday.

It was at an altitude of 207,000 feet over north-central Texas at a 9 a.m., traveling at 12,500 mph when Mission Control lost contact and tracking data.

Gary Hunziker in Plano said he saw the shuttle flying overhead. "I could see two bright objects flying off each side of it," he told The Associated Press. "I just assumed they were chase jets."

"I was getting ready to go out and I heard a big bang and the windows shook in the house," Ferolito told The AP. "I thought it was a sonic boom."

Security had been tight for the 16-day scientific research mission because of the presence of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.

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 launch, but also for its planned landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said it had no immediate comment.

Columbia's crew had completed 80-plus scientific research experiments during their time in orbit.

Just in the last week, NASA observed the anniversary of its only two other space tragedies, the Challenger explosion, which killed all seven astronauts on board, and Apollo space craft fire that killed three on Jan. 27, 1967.


The City of Palestine is a progressive and diverse community offering its 18,000 residents a high quality of life in a semi-rural setting. Palestine, the county seat of Anderson County, is located in the central part of East Texas, 108 miles south of Dallas, 150 miles north of Houston and 180 miles northeast of Austin. Principal highways leading to Palestine include US 79, 84 and 287; Interstate 45 is 35 miles to the west. The City is served by rail carriers and has a municipal general aviation airport. Other East Texas communities in the region include Tyler, Nacogdoches and Kilgore

"On Saturday, shocked Israelis wondered if fate could have anything worse in store for them as they tuned in to watch the disaster broadcast live on local television channels, instead of the landing which had been scheduled at 9:16 a.m. EST.

Their disbelief deepened as newscasters reported the shuttle crash was first heard over a town in Texas named Palestine, a bitter irony lost on no one."

The irony of having a Texas president about to go to war is not lost on Americans either. Will America itself crash and burn this year?

NASA: Shuttle Lost Over Texas

Columbia Apparently Disintegrates Over Texas

Saturday, February 1, 2003; 10:17 AM

Space shuttle Columbia apparently disintegrated in flames over Texas on Saturday minutes before it was to land in Florida. TV video showed what appeared to be falling debris, as NASA declared an emergency and warned residents to beware of falling objects.

Six Americans and Israel's first astronaut were on board.

NASA announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

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 warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided and could be hazardous. There were reports of debris seen falling.

Residents of north Texas heard "a big bang" Saturday about the time the space shuttle Columbia disappeared on its way to a landing at Cape Canaveral.

"It was like a car hitting the house or an explosion. It shook that much," said John Ferolito, 60, of Carrolton, north of Dallas.

Gary Hunziker in Plano said he saw the shuttle flying overhead. "I could see two bright objects flying off each side of it," he told The Associated Press. "I just assumed they were chase jets."

"I was getting read to go out and I heard a big bang and the windows shook in the house," Ferolito told The Associated Press. "I was getting ready to go out and I heard a big bang and the windows shook in the house. I thought it was a sonic boom."

Bob Multer of Palestine, Texas, told CNN he saw what looked like a high-flying jet and heard a noise.

"It would be very similar to a tornado, it was very loud and intense," Multer said. "It was loud enough and it was low enough that it shook the building."

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.

The astronauts had conducted more than 80 experiments on behalf of NASA and the European, Japanese, German and Canadian space agencies, as well as numerous student and commercial investigations. The shuttle did not visit the International Space Station on this trip.

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.

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.

Columbia is NASA's oldest shuttle and first flew in 1981.

© 2003 The Associated Press

NASA: Fuel-Line Cracks Affect Entire Shuttle Fleet

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA discovered a fuel-line crack in its newest space shuttle Wednesday, the same potentially dangerous problem affecting the rest of the fleet.

The small crack was found in the metal liner of a hydrogen-fuel line inside Endeavour, which returned from orbit just last month. Similar cracks have been found in the same parts on the three other shuttles, Atlantis, Discovery and Columbia.

Engineers are still inspecting Endeavour, which first flew in 1992, and more cracks are anticipated.

"We've got it on the other three, so we're not necessarily surprised to see that Endeavour has cracks, too," said NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham.

Buckingham said there is no way to know, with certainty, when or how the cracks occurred. "But I think a reasonable person can assume we've been flying with these cracks," he added.

The problem was first detected three weeks ago on Atlantis. Inspections quickly turned up cracks on Discovery and then Columbia. The work on Endeavour had to wait until the shuttle returned from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it landed June 19 following a space station visit.

Columbia's science research flight with the first Israeli astronaut, which had been scheduled for a July 19 liftoff, is on indefinite hold. The launch dates of all other shuttle flights this year are also in question.

The concern is not that the 12-inch-diameter fuel lines might leak, but that the cracks might grow and that metal chips might break off and end up in an engine. That could lead to an engine shutdown during launch, with possibly catastrophic results.

The cracks are up to three-tenths of an inch in length and are located in liners used to direct the flow of hydrogen fuel to the main engines.

Buckingham said NASA does not consider the shuttle fleet grounded — at least not yet. There is a possibility that engineers may conclude that the spaceships can fly safely with the cracks and that no repairs are needed, he said. But if the cracked liners need to be replaced, it could take months to manufacture new parts.

Seven engineering teams, involving workers around the country, are working practically nonstop to determine the severity of the problem and devise possible ways to fix it.

Despite the problem, NASA is still working toward a late August launch of Atlantis and an October launch of Endeavour. Both are space station missions.

Residents Find Shuttle Debris in Texas


Associated Press Writer

Published February 1, 2003, 1:15 PM CST

NACOGDOCHES, Texas -- Bits of machinery and pieces of metal were found strewn across a wide area of east Texas after the space shuttle Columbia broke apart. One piece crashed through the roof of a dentist's office.

Police and NASA officials warned residents the debris could be toxic and should not be touched. The Environmental Protection Agency prepared to coordinate a cleanup, and the Army's 1st Cavalry Division deployed a task force -- including helicopters and military police -- to help search for wreckage.

"It's all over Nacogdoches," said James Milford, owner of a barber shop in downtown. "There are several little pieces, some parts of machinery ... there's been a lot of pieces about 3 feet wide."

On the edge of downtown Nacogdoches, 135 miles northeast of Houston, a National Guardsman stood watch over a steel rod with silver bolts that landed in the grass outside a yard. People streamed up to take photos of the debris.

NASA lost communication with Columbia as the ship soared across Texas at an altitude of about 200,000 feet.

Debris was reported in several east Texas counties and along the Texas-Louisiana border. A fisherman from DeRidder, La., Elbie Bradley, reported hearing a falling object splash into the Toledo Bend reservoir, which straddles the border.

"I thought it was an airplane that hit the lake," he said. "Before the piece came down, it sounded like the start of a big motor without an exhaust on it."

In Nacogdoches, Jeff Hancock, a 29-year-old dentist, said he found a chunk of debris in his office.

"There's actually a piece in my office. It came through the roof of my office. It's about a footlong metal bracket," he said.

Ed Rohner, Nacogdoches airport manager, said some type of tank ended up on a runway.

"We have one large, several foot in diameter, some type of tank that was in the middle of a runway," Rohner said. "We've got pieces of debris all along the entrance road to the airport," Rohner said.

R.T. Gregory, a waiter at Aubrey's Cafe in Nacogdoches said he and about 50 other people gathered around a taped-off piece of metal debris in the parking lot of the Commercial Bank of Texas. He said the debris was about 4 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Nacogdoches Fire Chief Thomas Lambert told Dallas-Fort Worth television WFAA he found a half-moon shaped piece, 5 to 5 1/2 feet long.

"This piece I'm looking at does have severe burn marks on it, like you take a blow torch and put it on metal until it turns a kind of a bluish-greenish color," he said.

Authorities were investigating what they thought could be a piece of the shuttle next to the driveway to Rice High School along busy Interstate 45.

"It looks like a piece of tile, said Rice Police Chief James McDuffie. Rice is located just north of Corsicana.

Authorities ordered people to stay 100 yards away from the debris because of contamination fears. However, a number of Nacogdoches residents were picking up pieces and turning them in to law enforcement officers, authorities said.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office had received more than 30 confirmed reports of fallen debris, Campbell said. The items ranged in size from small pieces of tile to 2-by-2 foot pieces of metal.

"We've had people bring pieces of it up here to the office," said Sheriff James Campbell. "We certainly want to discourage that.

Cherokee County is in East Texas, about halfway between Tyler and Lufkin.

Residents in southern Arkansas also were warned to stay away from any debris, although there were no confirmed reports of any falling there.

Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press

Space shuttle Columbia, crew lost

Crew of seven dead

Craft disintegrates in flames over Texas

Residents warned of falling debris

NOAA map of debris area

A trail of debris was visible from space shuttle Columbia over Texas. ((AP Photo/WFAA-TV))

Bush says 'no survivors' from shuttle accident

Debris Falling Over Texas

By Mike Cabbage

Sentinel Staff Writer

Published February 1, 2003, 1:38 PM CST

Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during its return to Earth today, killing seven astronauts and dealing a stunning blow to America’s space program.

President Bush said "there are no survivors" from the loss of the space shuttle Columbia. He called it "terrible news and great sadness to our country."

Almost three hours after the accident, the White House confirmed the shuttle was lost. Witnesses in Central Texas reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing trails of flaming debris falling along the shuttle's flight path as Columbia traveled 38 miles high at six times the speed of sound en route to a planned 9:16 a.m. landing at Kennedy Space Center.

“We ran out and started looking around,” said Benjamin Laster of Kemp, Texas. “I saw a puff of vapor and smoke and saw a big chunk of material fall.”

"Sadly, from the video that's available, it does not appear that there were any survivors," said Bill Readdy, NASA's associate administrator for space flight.

Readdy said it was too early to speculate about the exact cause. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said the accident was not caused by anything or anyone on the ground.

O'Keefe said President Bush was speaking to the families of the astronauts.

"We trust the prayers of the nation will be with them and with their families. A more courageous group of people you could not have hoped to know," O'Keefe said.

All appeared normal as Columbia fired its thrusters at 8:17 a.m. EST to leave orbit and land at KSC. For much of the fiery reentry through Earth's atmosphere, communications between the ground and the shuttle routinely are lost. But when contact with Columbia was scheduled to resume about 9 a.m., ground controllers heard nothing but silence.

“Search and rescue teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been alerted,” said James Hartsfield, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “Any debris located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should be avoided. It may be hazardous.”

Speculation immediately focused on damage to Columbia's protective heat tiles that the ship suffered during launch from KSC on Jan. 16. Launch pad cameras detected a piece of insulating foam from the shuttle's external fuel tank breaking off and striking Columbia's left wing.

Minor tile damage during launch is not unusual. Leroy Cain, NASA's flight director for Columbia's return home, said Friday that the wing damage was not considered serious and no unusual precautions were being taken.

“We can't say with great detail the degree of the damage other than all of the analysis suggests that it would be very minor in terms of the amount of tile that might actually be missing,” Cain said Friday. “The analysis says that we have plenty of margin in those areas in that regard and that the impact could not have been ..... enough to take out any significant amount of tile.”

Columbia's crew consists of the commander, Air Force Col. Rick Douglas Husband; the co-pilot, Navy Cmdr. William C. McCool; mission specialists Kalpana Chawla; Navy Capt. David M. Brown; Air Force Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson; Navy Cmdr. Laurel Blair Salton Clark; and Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.

Columbia was coming home from a successful mission to do science research in weightlessness 170 miles above Earth. During the shuttle's 16 days in space, the crew split into two shifts to work around the clock on 80 or so physical, materials and life science experiments. Their laboratory was a 20-foot by 14-foot pressurized aluminum module inside Columbia's cargo bay that the astronauts accessed through a tunnel from the crew compartment. NASA officials were elated the flight - the shuttle's 113th - had accomplished all of its major goals.

“This has been a very successful mission,” Cain said Friday. “It's far exceeded folks' expectations from a science standpoint so we are very pleased.”

The landing was the first time behind the controls for astronaut Husband, a 45-year-old former Air Force test pilot assigned to command Columbia after copiloting a previous shuttle flight. It was co-pilot McCool's first landing. The accident appeared to be the U.S. space program's third fatal accident involving astronauts. Apollo 1 caught fire on the launch pad, killing its three-man crew during a countdown test in 1967. Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch in January 1986, killing seven astronauts.

After the Challenger accident, most of NASA's attention was focused on safety issues surrounding the shuttle's launch. Landing was considered less risky.

“I worry a lot less during this [landing] than the launch,” said veteran NASA shuttle manager Wayne Hale, who supervised many launches and landings. “There are just fewer ways of getting in trouble during entry.” An automated landing system never is used, however, making touchdown subject to human error. If trouble occurs, there aren't many options. Because the shuttle lands without power, it glides steeply out of orbit after circling a quarter of the way around the globe.

“It is the one task that the pilots train most extensively for as far as the hands-on flying,” former astronaut Richard Covey said. “There is no margin for error in the landing sequence.”

Unlike the pilot of a powered airplane, a shuttle commander can't open the throttle, pull up and circle around to try again. Once the shuttle fires its engines to leave orbit and re-enter Earth's atmosphere, it's committed to coming down.

Today's landing attempt was the 62nd for a shuttle at KSC, compared with 49 at Edwards Air Force Base and one at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Nineteen were night landings, 14 of which have been at KSC. The other five were at Edwards.

The accident occurred during Columbia's 28th flight. It was the 88th mission since Challenger's 1986 explosion. That disaster, NASA's first accident in flight, sidelined the space agency for 32 months.

With more than two dozen additional space station assembly flights scheduled aboard the shuttle during the next five years, the future of the station, as well as the shuttle program itself, could be in jeopardy.

The influential chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, recently said the loss of another orbiter could set human spaceflight back for years.

“If we do lose another orbiter, we can't replace it as quickly as we replaced Challenger,” Sensenbrenner said. “We also are considerably behind as the result of some management failures and some funding failures to go to the next stage for a new reusable launch vehicle that could have human beings on board.”

Columbia's mission was the first of six scheduled for 2003. The next scheduled shuttle flight is a mission to the international space station aboard Atlantis in early March. But NASA's three other orbiters - Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery - likely will be grounded pending a review of Columbia's accident.

NASA won't have a vehicle other than the shuttle capable of carrying people into space until at least the end of the decade. However, this morning's accident could accelerate efforts to find a replacement.

In 1996, President Clinton directed NASA to find a successor vehicle that was 10 times cheaper and 100 times safer. However, the space agency pulled the plug in March 2001 on the $1.3 billion X-33 program, the best-known effort to develop a prototype for a next-generation spacecraft.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin hoped to use X-33 as a steppingstone to a new full-scale reusable launch vehicle dubbed VentureStar. But the program was stalled by a series of engineering problems. With the project hopelessly behind schedule and over budget, additional government funding was cut off.

As a result, there is no viable alternative to the shuttle on the horizon. Much of the funding for developing a possible replacement was shifted last year to development of a small orbital spaceplane that would serve as a crew escape ship for the station.

One option being considered would launch the spaceplane with station-bound crew and cargo on U.S. expendable rockets in 10 years or so.

Copyright © 2003, Orlando Sentinel

Photos show odd images near shuttle


David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

A San Francisco amateur astronomer who photographs the space shuttles whenever their orbits carry them over the Bay Area has captured five strange and provocative images of the shuttle Columbia just as it was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere before dawn Saturday.

The pictures, taken with a Nikon 8 camera on a tripod, reveal what appear to be bright electrical phenomena flashing around the track of the shuttle's passage, but the photographer, who asked not to be identified, will not make them public immediately.

"They clearly record an electrical discharge like a lightning bolt flashing past, and I was snapping the pictures almost exactly . . . when the Columbia may have begun breaking up during re-entry," he said.

The photographer invited The Chronicle to view the photos on his computer screen Saturday night, and they are indeed puzzling.

They show a bright scraggly flash of orange light, tinged with pale purple, and shaped somewhat like a deformed L. The flash appears to cross the Columbia's dim contrail, and at that precise point, the contrail abruptly brightens and appears thicker and somewhat twisted as if it were wobbling.

"I couldn't see the discharge with own eyes, but it showed up clear and bright on the film when I developed it," the photographer said. "But I'm not going to speculate about what it might be."

E-mail David Perlman at

Sensors showed rising temperatures on Columbia

NASA: Remains of all seven astronauts found

Sunday, February 2, 2003 Posted: 8:18 PM EST (0118 GMT)

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (CNN) -- In the final minutes before the space shuttle Columbia fell apart over east Texas Saturday, something occurred on the craft's left side -- events significant enough to make the space craft roll to the right in an effort to keep Columbia on an even keel, a NASA official said Sunday.

Computers monitoring the craft's progress as it sped from California toward Texas indicated that temperatures on Columbia's left-side mid-fuselage increased four times faster than temperatures on the craft's right-hand side, said Ron Dittemore, speaking at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

According to monitoring devices, the temperature on the left side increased by 60 degrees Fahrenheit during five minutes, said Dittemore, NASA's top shuttle program manager. During the same time, temperatures on the right went up by 15 degrees.

Moments later, he said, instruments noted an increase in drag on Columbia's left side. As it headed into west Texas, the drag was so pronounced that the craft's right ailerons tried to correct its flight, working to roll Columbia to the right, Dittemore said.

"Soon after, we had loss of signal," Dittemore said.

NASA officials also revealed that remains of all seven of the astronauts had been recovered.

Director of flight crew operations Bob Cabana declined to give further details out of respect for the families but said that the remains were being treated with the greatest respect.  We are honoring our fellow crew mates," said Cabana.

A massive investigation involving federal, state and local authorities was underway Sunday to try to solve the mystery of what caused the fatal tragedy.

At the same time, plans for a memorial began taking shape to honor the seven astronauts killed Saturday morning.

The accident strew thousands of pieces of debris across a wide area of east Texas and Louisiana. NASA investigation teams have been dispatched to coordinate the recovery of physical evidence.

Pieces of the Columbia -- up to about eight feet in length -- have been found at more than 1,000 sites around Nacogdoches County, Texas, Sheriff Thomas Kerss said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the White House said President Bush, who spoke to family members of the crew by telephone Saturday, will attend a memorial service Tuesday in Houston along with first lady Laura Bush.

Immediately after the craft was lost, NASA instituted its investigation protocols, which meant that all data relating to the flight was impounded, Dittemore told reporters.

Investigators were expected to arrive Sunday at a Lockheed Martin plant in New Orleans where the 154-foot external fuel tanks are built. The company already has impounded records pertaining to the tank's production, a spokesman said.(Investigation)

Authorities warned residents not to touch any pieces of the spacecraft since they could be contaminated with toxic residue from the spacecraft's fuel system and could be crucial to determine what happened to Columbia.

In Nacogdoches County, at least 70 people concerned that they may have touched debris had gone to area hospitals by Sunday morning, but none showed any injuries, said county emergency management director Sue Kennedy.

The process of recovering the debris may be a lengthy one, investigators warned.

'Weeks or months' to complete search

"We have a vast amount of forest and timberland within our county. Some of these areas may not receive coverage for weeks or months," Kerss said.

In Hemphill, about 180 miles southeast of Dallas, authorities found numerous fragments of the spacecraft and human remains believed to be from its crew. The FBI is investigating four reports of human remains found in the surrounding county, and a piece of debris the size of a compact car landed in a pond near Hemphill, authorities said.

"The FBI has informed us that ... is federal property," said Kennedy. "They will pursue legal action and prosecute if necessary to get that back."

"We owe it to them every single second of the day to be sure we dedicate ourselves to finding out what went wrong," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said Sunday. "We're going to find out what caused this, we're going to make sure we correct it and we're going to make sure this never happens again."

NASA officials said the shuttle's left wing lost hydraulic sensors, lost tire pressure readings and then registered intense heat before breaking apart. Officials also said they would take another look at an incident during Columbia's January 16 launch in which a piece of insulation struck the left wing.

In addition to NASA's internal probe, an independent investigation will be led by retired Navy Adm. Harold Gehman, who headed the probe of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

'A man of God'

The shuttle crew was remembered during Sunday church services. In Amarillo, Texas, at shuttle commander Rick Husband's church, family friend Patty Ragan remembered Husband as "a man of God" who "put himself into everything he did with a full heart."

In Racine, Wisconsin, friends and family members mourned mission specialist Laurel Clark at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church.

"Laurel was a very intense person who would set goals and would go for them," Clark's brother, Daniel Salton, said Sunday. "And I think that's a great role model for kids today. ... You can do great things for humanity if you just set some small goals and always go for the next thing and set your sights higher."

The seven astronauts killed in the disaster were Husband, Clark, pilot William McCool, payload commander Michael Anderson, mission specialists David Brown and Kaplana Chawla, and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon.

A NASA official said the shuttle's altitude made it "highly unlikely" that it was a victim of a terrorist act. FBI officials quickly discounted the possibility of foul play or terrorism.

Space shuttle flights have been put on hold until NASA can learn what caused the disaster. NASA said the international space station, where two astronauts and a cosmonaut remain, has enough supplies to last the crew until June. An unmanned Russian supply ship was launched to the space station on Sunday.

The next shuttle flight had been scheduled for March 1.

Officials asked anyone who finds debris to call (281) 483-3388.

Columbia was lost less than a week after the anniversaries of two other deadly space program disasters -- the 17th anniversary on January 28 of the explosion of the shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the 36th anniversary on January 27 of a launch pad fire that killed three Apollo astronauts in 1967.

List of shuttle debris found

Highlights of the hundreds of reports of debris from the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia.


• Remains that a hospital employee identified as charred torso, thigh bone and skull on a rural road near other unspecified debris in Hemphill, east of Nacogdoches.

• Remains identified as a charred human leg on a farm in Sabine County, about 50 miles east of Nacogdoches.

• Intact, charred helmet and astronaut's patch in San Augustine County.

• A rounded piece of what appeared to be metal, about 4 feet by 5 feet, found on a rural highway in Neches.

• Foot-long metal bracket that smashed through roof of dentist's office in Nacogdoches.

• Half-moon-shaped metal piece, about 5 feet long, in front yard in Nacogdoches, described as jagged with severe burn marks.

• V-shaped chunk of metal in the median of U.S. 79 just northeast of Palestine, in Anderson County. More unspecified debris found at nearby Pert.

• 2-foot square pieces of metal, small pieces of tile in Cherokee County, just west of Nacogdoches, and in Rusk County, just to the north.

• A 5- to 6-foot-long object that looks like part of the landing gear found 12 miles south of San Augustine, with a piece that looks like part of a radio, with wires hanging out, found half a mile away.

• 300 pieces, including one that would be difficult to fit into a pickup truck, found in Cherokee County.

• 25 pieces found on a 20-acre campus of the Douglas Independent School District in Nacogdoches. Possible 5- by 5-inch piece of tile in front of Rice High School in Rice, in Navarro County.

• Tank, about 3 feet in diameter, on a runway at the A.L. Mangham Jr. Regional Airport in Nacogdoches.

• 3- by 3-foot piece of metal in a bank parking lot in Nacogdoches, and 1-foot diameter piece of gray metal in front of the courthouse.

• Curved piece of metal, about 5 feet in diameter, in highway median in Anderson County, west of Nacogdoches.

• 7- to 8-foot door-like fragment and a piece of debris resembling part of a windshield found in Cherokee County.

• Dented metal object about the size of a beach ball in the front yard of a home in Bronson, southeast of Nacogdoches near the Louisiana line. The object has bolts and nodules attached.

• 3-foot-by-3-foot cylindrical object at National Guard Armory in Nacogdoches.


• Smoldering bundle of wires in a front yard in Shreveport.

• Compact-car sized piece reported splashing into Toledo Bend Reservoir on Texas-Louisiana state line.

Text of NASA statement

The Associated Press

Published February 1, 2003

Text of a statement from NASA after the loss of communication Saturday with the space shuttle Columbia:

A space shuttle contingency has been declared in mission control Houston as a result of the loss of communication with the Space Shuttle Columbia at approximately 9 a.m. EST Saturday as it descended toward a landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. It was scheduled to touch down at 9:16 am EST. Communication and tracking of the shuttle was lost at 9 a.m. EST at an altitude of about 203,000 feet in the area above north-central Texas. At the time communications were lost, the shuttle was traveling approximately 12,500 miles per hour (MACH 18). No communication and tracking information were received in mission control after that time.

Search and rescue teams in the Dallas-Forth Worth and in portions of East Texas have been alerted. Any debris that is located in the area that may be related to the space shuttle contingency should be avoided and may be hazardous as a result of toxic propellants used aboard the shuttle. The location of any possible debris should immediately reported to local authorities.

Flight controllers in Mission Control have secured all information, notes and data pertinent to today's entry and landing by space shuttle Columbia and continue to methodically proceed through contingency plans. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press

Space Shuttle Apparently Disintegrates


.c The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Columbia apparently disintegrated in flames over Texas on Saturday minutes before it was to land in Florida. TV video showed what appeared to be falling debris, as NASA declared an emergency and warned residents to beware of falling objects.

Six Americans and Israel's first astronaut were on board.

In north Texas, people reported hearing ``a big bang'' at about 9 a.m., the same time all radio and data communication with the shuttle was lost.

Television stations showed what appeared to be flaming debris falling through the sky, and NASA warned Texas residents to beware of any falling objects. NASA also announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

Inside Mission Control, flight controllers 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 secluded place.

``A contingency for the space shuttle has been declared,'' Mission Control repeated over and over as no word or any data came from Columbia.

In 42 years of U.S. human space flight, there had never been an accident during the descent to Earth or landing. On Jan. 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

On Jan. 16, shortly after Columbia lifted off, a piece of insulating foam on its external fuel tank came off and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle. Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.

Columbia had been aiming for a landing at 9:16 a.m. Saturday.

It was at an altitude of 207,000 feet over north-central Texas at a 9 a.m., traveling at 12,500 mph when Mission Control lost contact and tracking data.

Gary Hunziker in Plano said he saw the shuttle flying overhead. ``I could see two bright objects flying off each side of it,'' he told The Associated Press. ``I just assumed they were chase jets.''

``I was getting ready to go out and I heard a big bang and the windows shook in the house,'' Ferolito told The AP. ``I thought it was a sonic boom.''

Security had been tight for the 16-day scientific research mission because of the presence of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.

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 launch, but also for its planned landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said it had no immediate comment.

Columbia's crew had completed 80-plus scientific research experiments during their time in orbit.

Just in the last week, NASA observed the anniversary of its only two other space tragedies, the Challenger explosion, which killed all seven astronauts on board, and Apollo space craft fire that killed three on Jan. 27, 1967.

02/01/03 10:11 EST

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.

Remains thought to be those of Columbia crew

NASA vows to find cause of shuttle disaster

Saturday, February 1, 2003 Posted: 9:59 PM EST (0259 GMT)

Investigators bow their heads in prayer before moving human remains found in a debris field in Hemphill, Texas.  (They found a torso, leg, and head - but not the rest of the body)

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Human remains found in a field in Texas late Saturday are being treated as if they are those of some of the seven astronauts who perished aboard space shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated nearly 40 miles above the Earth.

Along with the remains, a charred NASA patch and a flight helmet were found on a rural road in Hemphill, east of Nacogdoches, Texas, according to The Associated Press. (Full story)

FBI agents in Texas are helping local authorities recover shuttle debris, FBI Dallas field office spokeswoman Lori Bailey told CNN.

Streaking through the atmosphere at 18 times the speed of sound, Columbia disintegrated Saturday morning about 15 minutes before its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Disaster timeline)

Those killed on the ill-fated shuttle flight were commander Rick D. Husband; pilot William C. McCool; payload commander Michael P. Anderson; mission specialists David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark; and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon.

"Columbia's lost. There are no survivors," a grim-faced President Bush later said in an address to the American people. "These astronauts knew the dangers and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life." (Full story)

With their voices sometimes threatening to break, NASA officials vowed they would find the cause of the disaster so their colleagues' sacrifice would not be in vain.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, assisted by military forces from Fort Hood, Texas, have begun collecting debris from Columbia. People were urged not to go near the debris because it could contain toxic substances from the shuttle fuel.

To assist the recovery effort, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited aircraft from flying below 3,000 feet in an area 160 miles long and 40 miles wide extending from Cedar Creek, Texas to Fort Polk, Louisiana. The FAA also urged pilots and airlines to be alert to a debris cloud in the area -- 95 miles long and more than 22 miles wide -- that could create a "visibility issue" for pilots.

Witnesses in Texas reported debris falling from the sky, accompanied by a cascade of thunder.

"When it got nearer, we could see flecks or pieces coming off of it," said Linda Steed, who lives near Nacogdoches, Texas. She said the sound "reverberated" for several minutes, "like a rolling thunder."

"I'm devastated. It's unbelievable. It makes me so sad," she said. (Witness reports)

Heat-detecting weather radar showed a bright red streak moving across the wide Texas sky.

Reports of charred debris stretched from Corsicana, southeast of Dallas, into Louisiana, and could turn up as far east as Arkansas and as far west as Arizona and New Mexico. More on debris found)

Officials asked anyone who finds shuttle debris to call (800) 525-5555.

Questions raised about foam piece that fell during launch

Even as they mourn for their seven friends and colleagues killed in the shuttle disaster, NASA has begun the search for answer as to why Columbia broke into pieces.

"My promise to the crew and to the crew families is that the investigation that we have just launched will find the cause, we'll fix it and then we'll move on. We can't let their sacrifice be in vain," said NASA associate Administrator Bill Readdy, a veteran of two shuttle flights. (Transcript)

Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said the first indication of trouble was loss of temperature sensors on the left wing. "They were followed seconds and minutes later by several other problems, including loss of tire pressure indications on the left main gear and then indications of excessive structural heating."

Officials said they will take another look at a piece of foam that came off during takeoff.

The fact that the foam struck the left wing, site of some of the sensors that failed Saturday, means that the incident will need to be investigated further, NASA chief flight director Milt Heflin said.

But Dittemore cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying what looks like "the smoking gun" many times turns "out not even to be close."

"Is that the smoking gun?" he said. "It is not. We don't know enough about it. A lot more analysis and evidence needs to come to the table." (More on investigation)

An administration official said the shuttle's altitude made it "highly unlikely" it fell victim to a terrorist act. FBI officials also quickly discounted the possibility of foul play or terrorism.

Space shuttle flights have been put on hold until NASA can learn what caused the disaster. NASA says the international space station, where two astronauts and a cosmonaut remain, has enough supplies to last the crew until June.

The next shuttle flight had been scheduled for March 1.

Columbia is the oldest of NASA's shuttle fleet, first launched in 1981. It was on its 28th mission. The shuttle underwent an extensive, 17-month overhaul that began in September 1999. (Columbia history)

It rejoined the shuttle fleet in February 2001 and flew its first mission after the upgrades in March 2002.

Columbia was lost less than a week after the anniversaries of two other deadly space program disasters -- the 17th anniversary of the explosion of the shuttle Challenger on January 28 and the 36th anniversary of a launchpad fire that killed three Apollo astronauts January 27. (Challenger disaster)

Copyright 2003 CNN. All rights reserved.

Nasa chiefs 'repeatedly ignored' safety warnings

Peter Beaumont

Sunday February 2, 2003

The Observer

Fears of a catastrophic shuttle accident were raised last summer with the White House by a former Nasa engineer who pleaded for a presidential order to halt all further shuttle flights until safety issues had been addressed.

In a letter to the White House, Don Nelson, who served with Nasa for 36 years until he retired in 1999, wrote to President George W. Bush warning that his 'intervention' was necessary to 'prevent another catastrophic space shuttle accident'.

During his last 11 years at Nasa, Nelson served as a mission operations evaluator for proposed advanced space transportation projects. He was on the initial design team for the space shuttle. He participated in every shuttle upgrade until his retirement.

Listing a series of mishaps with shuttle missions since 1999, Nelson warned in his letter that Nasa management and the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel have failed to respond to the growing warning signs of another shuttle accident. Since 1999 the vehicle had experienced a number of potentially disastrous problems:

· 1999 - Columbia's launch was delayed by a hydrogen leak and Discovery was grounded with damaged wiring, contaminated engine and dented fuel line;

· January 2000 - Endeavor was delayed because of wiring and computer failures;

· August 2000 - inspection of Columbia revealed 3,500 defects in wiring;

· October 2000 - the 100th flight of the shuttle was delayed because of a misplaced safety pin and concerns with the external tank;

· April 2002 - a hydrogen leak forced the cancellation of the Atlantis flight;

· July 2002 - the inspector general reported that the shuttle safety programme was not properly managed;

· August 2002 - the shuttle launch system was grounded after fuel line cracks were discovered.

White House officials rejected Nelson's plea for a moratorium. He tried to talk again to Nasa's administration about his worries in October but was again rebuffed.

Yesterday Nelson told The Observer that he feared the Columbia disaster was the culmination of 'disastrous mismanagement' by Nasa's most senior officials and would inevitably lead to the moratorium he was calling for.

'I became concerned about safety issues in Nasa after Challenger. I think what happened is that very slowly over the years Nasa's culture of safety became eroded.

'But when I tried to raise my concerns with Nasa's new administrator, I received two reprimands for not going through the proper channels, which discouraged other people from coming forward with their concerns. When it came to an argument between a middle-ranking engineer and the astronauts and administration, guess who won.

'One of my biggest complaints has been that we should have been looking for ways to develop crew escape modules, which Nasa has constantly rejected.'

His claims emerged against a background of growing concern over the management of safety issues by Nasa.

They followed similar warnings last April by the former chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory panel, Richard Bloomberg, who said: 'In all of the years of my involvement, I have never been as concerned for space shuttle safety as now.'

Bloomberg blamed the deferral or elimination of planned safety upgrades, a diminished workforce as a result of hiring freezes, and an ageing infrastructure for the advisory panel's findings.

His warning echoed earlier concern about key shuttle safety issues. In September 2001 at a Senate hearing into shuttle safety, senators and independent experts warned that budget and management problems were putting astronauts lives at risk. At the centre of concern were claims that a budget overspend of almost $5 billion (£3bn) had led to a culture in Nasa whereby senior managers treated shuttle safety upgrades as optional.

Among those who spoke out were Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who warned: 'I fear that if we don't provide the space shuttle programme with the resources it needs for safety upgrades, our country is going to pay a price we can't bear.

'We're starving Nasa's shuttle budget and thus greatly increasing the chance of a catastrophic loss.'

Although Nasa officials said that improvements were being made they admitted that more needed to be done.

A year earlier, a General Accounting Office report had warned that the loss of experienced engineers and technicians in the space shuttle programme was threatening the safety of future missions just as Nasa was preparing to increase its annual number of launches to build the International Space Station.

The GAO cited internal Nasa documents showing 'workforce reductions are jeopardising Nasa's ability to safely support the shuttle's planned flight rate'.

Space agency officials discovered in late 1999 that many employees didn't have the necessary skills to properly manage avionics, mechanical engineering and computer systems, according to the GAO report.

The GAO assembled a composite portrait of the shuttle programme's workforce that showed twice as many workers over 60 years of age than under 30. It assessed that the number of workers then nearing retirement could jeopardise the programme's ability to transfer leadership roles to the next generation to support the higher flight rate necessary to build the space station.

'Aerodynamics May Explain Space Shuttle Breakup'

TIME science correspondent Jeffrey Kluger examines the possible causes and consequences of the Columbia disaster

Saturday, Feb. 01, 2003

Seven astronauts, including the first Israeli in space, were lost Saturday when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart in the skies of Texas. The incident occurred at an altitude of some 200,000 feet, shortly after reentry and 15 minutes before Columbia had been scheduled to land at Cape Canaveral. TIME science correspondent Jeffrey Kluger explains some of the possible causes and consequences of the accident: What are the possible scenarios that could have caused this disastrous accident on the shuttle's reentry into the Earth's atmosphere?

Jeffrey Kluger: There are three possible scenarios that explain this event. The first, which I believe is the likeliest explanation, would be an aerodynamic structural breakup of the shuttle caused by it rolling at the wrong angle. Remember, after reentry, the shuttle is descending without power, which means astronauts at the controls can't compensate for a loss of attitude by using the engines, they can only do so using the flaps. And that's extremely hard. Astronauts describe piloting the shuttle on reentry as like trying to fly a brick with wings. It's very difficult to operate, and even more so to correct any problems.

A second explanation might be a loss of tiles leading to a burn-through. (The shuttle is covered with heat-resistant tiles to protect the craft and those inside it from burning up in the scorching temperatures caused by the friction of reentry.) But I think that explanation is unlikely, because the tile-loss would have had to have been quite substantial for that to become possible. You'll hear a lot in the next few days about things falling off the shuttle during liftoff. But it often happens that they lose a few tiles, and I'd be surprised if it happened on a scale that could make an accident of this type possible.

The last option is some kind of engine failure leading to fuel ignition. Although the main tanks are mostly empty, there should still be fuel left in the maneuvering tanks. But probably not enough for an explosion that could have caused this breakup. And just in case anybody was wondering, you can almost certainly rule out terrorism as a cause. This incident occurred well above the range of shoulder-fired missiles. And it would probably be easier to sneak a bomb onto Air Force One than to get one onto the shuttle. So is reentry the Achilles heel of the shuttle program?  

JK: No, the Achilles heel has always been liftoff, and the dangers posed by massive fuel load involved. Reentry has, of course, always been a difficult part of the space program. But this is, in fact, our first fatal accident on reentry. Apollo 13 is remembered as our most difficult ever reentry, but the ship and crew survived. The Soviets lost a crew on reentry in 1970 after an oxygen leak that caused the cosmonauts to suffocate on the way down. Reentry is a very difficult process, but the Russians mastered it in 1961 and we did the same a few years later. Are shuttle crews trained to respond to the scenarios you've described?

JK: Yes, they're trained to deal with loss of attitude on reentry, and a range of other emergencies. But astronauts are not trained to deal with situations that result in certain death, because that would be a bit like training for what you might do if your car went over a cliff — in some situations there simply isn't anything you can do. One irony, though, is that NASA hadn't trained astronauts to deal with the sort of quadruple failure that occurred in Apollo 13, because they assumed that such a scenario would result in certain death. But the astronauts survived. What are the immediate implications for the space program of Saturday's disaster?

JK: Following the precedent of the Challenger disaster in 1986, it's unlikely that NASA will undertake any further shuttle missions or any other manned space flights for the next two years. One immediate problem, though, is the International Space Station, which currently has a crew of three on board. They might consider one further flight to bring that crew home — the other option would be for them to return aboard a Russian Soyuz craft, which isn't the most comfortable or the safest ride. Beyond that, however, the space station is likely to be left unoccupied for a long time. NASA won't want to use the shuttle again until it can establish the cause of today's accident, and fix it. Now that we've lost two shuttles out of a fleet of five, it's even conceivable that the shuttle won't fly again. The shuttle was built as a space truck, and then the International Space Station was built to give it something to do. Both programs are likely to suffer as a result of this disaster.

According to a recording released of the last minutes of Columbia by NASA, Columbia's radio operator did not seem to know that anything was wrong until a split second before disaster struck. The radio operator's last words were "Roger ... uh!", which shows how unsuspecting the crew were. This suggests that (a) the crew were not as observant of the shuttle's flight performance as they should have been, and (b) they did not have immediate access to the temperature and other data monitored by sensors placed all over the craft, in spite of the data being radioed back to Mission Control. There was something very wrong there, in that way.

John W.

NASA Warns Public Not to Sell Debris


.c The Associated Press

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (AP) - NASA warned members of the public Sunday against  trying to sell purported Columbia debris on eBay, as local law enforcement agencies struggled to cordon off and protect the hundreds of pieces of wreckage.

``People should not be collecting that at all. It's all government property,'' said NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham.

Hours after the shuttle broke up Saturday over Texas, raining smoking debris over the countryside, listings for pieces began appearing on the Internet auction site. The items were quickly removed by eBay.

Buckingham said he was stunned.

``We live in an evil world, and there are people that will do those types of things,'' he said at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA does not know whether the items are authentic, but ``even someone pretending to sell something that came from Columbia is still bad,'' Buckingham said.

The range of the debris field - hundreds of square miles - strained the resources of sheriffs and police officers. Officers used horses, four-wheel-drive vehicles and satellite tracking devices to search for pieces, and then had to find ways to protect them until they were collected for analysis.

Some looting was reported in Nacogdoches County, where dozens of pieces of debris have been found, Sheriff Thomas Kerss said. The FBI was investigating, he said, but there were no immediate arrests.

No injuries were reported when the debris smashed through a roof, splashed into a reservoir and dropped amid farms, homes and businesses.

However, Sue Kennedy, emergency management coordinator for Nacogdoches County, said 70 people had gone to two hospitals because they had touched debris and were worried. NASA has warned members of the public not to touch any of the debris because it may contain toxic substances.

Across the city of Nacogdoches and the surrounding piney woods, residents found chunks of debris. A small tank rested on a runway. A steel rod with silver bolts was roped off behind yellow police tape in a yard. A piece of metal rested in a bank parking lot.

Debris covered a terrain that ranged from the urban prairie flatlands near Dallas to the hilly pine woods of Louisiana, mostly turning up in tiny blue-collar towns that survive on farming and timber. A piece of tile fell within 75 miles of President Bush's ranch in Crawford.

In Hemphill, near the Louisiana state line, hospital employee Mike Gibbs reported finding what appeared to be a charred torso, thigh bone and skull on a rural road near what appeared to be other debris. Billy Smith, an emergency coordinator for three East Texas counties, confirmed the find.

``I wouldn't want anybody seeing what I saw,'' Gibbs said. ``It was pretty gruesome.''

On a farm, also in Sabine County, two boys found a charred human leg, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. ``From the hip to the foot, it's all there, scorched from the fire,'' said their father, Bob White.

Debris has been tracked in a 500-square-mile area but could be spread over a region three times that, said James Kroll, director of the Emergency Geospacial Mapping Center at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

Jim Stutzman of Nacogdoches - 135 miles northeast of Houston - found a 9-inch long, 2-inch wide piece of metal in his yard. ``It has heat burns, melted metal and some of the grass burned into it when it fell,'' he said.

Debris found in San Augustine County about 140 miles northeast of Houston included a charred astronaut's patch and a flight helmet.

Debris also fell in western Louisiana, including a smoldering bundle of wires in a Shreveport front yard and pieces that reportedly dropped into Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas line. One of the pieces that fell into the reservoir was the size of a compact car, said Sheriff Tom Maddox.

NASA phone number for people who find debris: 281-483-3388.

02/02/03 13:53 EST

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press

Iraqis Call Shuttle Disaster God's Vengeance

Sat February 1, 2003 03:24 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Immediate popular reaction in Baghdad on Saturday to the loss of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia and its seven-member crew -- including the first Israeli in space -- was that it was God's retribution.

"We are happy that it broke up," government employee Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi said.

"God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans. They have encroached on our country. God is avenging us," he said.

Iraqis are braced for a possible U.S.-led war to rid their country of any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons it may possess. Iraq denies it has such weapons.

Car mechanic Mohammed Jaber al-Tamini noted Israeli air force Colonel Ilan Ramon was among the dead when the shuttle broke up over the southwestern United States 16 minutes before its scheduled landing.

The 48-year-old Israeli astronaut was a fighter pilot in the Israeli air force. He was the youngest pilot in a team that bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Israel said the reactor was intended to develop nuclear weapons.

"Israel launched an aggression on us when it raided our nuclear reactor without any reason, now time has come and God has retaliated to their aggression," Tamini said.

There were no such signs of jubilation over the shuttle disaster in any of the Palestinian territories. The official response from the Palestinians was one of condolence.

"President (Yasser) Arafat and the Palestinian Authority offer their condolences to the six American families and the Israeli family who lost their loved ones in the catastrophe," Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and spokesman, told Reuters.

Erekat said Arafat had sent President Bush a message of condolences over the loss of the NASA space agency's shuttle. The United States, Israel's closest ally, is the chief Middle East peace broker.

Pics Show Shuttle Left Wing Damaged On Lift-Off



Here is a link to thread on that contains 6 still shots that were captured from video posted at Florida Today site.

They show a chunk of insulation that broke off the external fuel tank, apparently of a size of a concrete block or larger, hitting a left wing at the bottom, and producing a huge cloud of the dust whose size was 1/3 to 1/2 of the size of the wing itself.

Video grabs by 'Rattlehead' as posted on message board 5b7f&threadid=57121

Video (Flash required)

It was reported on NASA news conference yesterday that on the re-entry, during a period of several minutes, 8 thermal and pressure sensors at that area went down, off the scale, while the shuttle was still performing well.

Then the shuttle started to break apart.

The flight was doomed from the launch and NASA knew it. They cold do nothing about it.

At the same conference it was said that similar chunk of insulation broke off during the precedent launch. This they knew also.


Florida Today article on left wing investigation:


Report: NASA Removed Advisers Who Warned on Safety

Mon February 3, 2003 09:03 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After an expert panel warned that its space shuttles were facing safety troubles if the agency's budget was not raised, NASA removed five of the panel's nine members and two consultants in what some of them said was a move to suppress their criticism, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The incident was recalled after the space shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas on Saturday, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Retired Adm. Bernard Kauderer, was so upset at the firings that he quit NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a group of experts charged with monitoring safety at the space agency, the newspaper said.

NASA conceded the individuals were forced out, but told the Times it changed the charter of the group so that new members who were younger and more skilled could be added. "It had nothing to do with shooting the messenger," a NASA spokeswoman told the newspaper.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said he was surprised by the report and that each member of the panel head served out his full term.

"There's no abnormality I'm aware of, but I'll certainly look into it and see if we can satisfy ourselves that there's no other intrusion involved," he told CNN.

The panel's most recent report, which came out last March and included analyzes by the six departed members, warned that work on long-term shuttle safety "had deteriorated," the article said. Tight budgets, the panel report said, were forcing an emphasis on short-term planning and adding to a backlog of planned improvements.

"I have never been as worried for space shuttle safety as I am right now," Dr. Richard D. Blomberg, the panel's chairman, told Congress in April. "All of my instincts suggest that the current approach is planting the seeds for future danger," the Times reported.

His worry was "not for the present flight or the next or perhaps the one after that." He added, "One of the roots of my concern is that nobody will know for sure when the safety margin has been eroded too far," the newspaper said.

Members of Congress who heard testimony from the panel last spring told the Times that they would re-examine whether budget constraints had undermined safety, but several said they doubted it.

O'Keefe said Blomberg "was concerned about the future process at that time, of exactly what would be the upgrades as well as the safety modifications necessary. We took those ideas aboard."

President Bush will propose a nearly $470 million boost in NASA's budget for fiscal 2004, an administration official said on Sunday, promising investigators would look into whether past cutbacks played any part in the Columbia disaster.

Shuttle crew knew debris hit Columbia

By Frank J. Murray


Columbia's crew was aware through most of its 16-day flight that debris that hit the underside of the space shuttle's left wing at launch posed a danger, but it never mentioned it during public transmissions, NASA said yesterday.

NASA officials yesterday abandoned the theory of insulation foam hitting wing tiles as the cause of the disaster. Earlier this week, NASA had called the launch mishap "the leading candidate" for what caused the shuttle to break apart upon re-entry to the atmosphere.

Eliezer Wolferman, father of Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, said he was told that the crew had 60 to 90 seconds to react to the shuttle's re-entry problem before the craft shattered.

But nothing said by spacecraft commander Col. Rick D. Husband matched Apollo 13 astronaut James A. Lovell Jr.'s classic, "Houston, we've got a problem." This time, Houston declared the problem, and a calm "Roger" was all that came back from Columbia.

The astronauts knew of the potential for "anomalies" during re-entry, but the crew said nothing about it, even during the final 10 minutes, when the astronauts would have been aware that the spacecraft was pulling to the left.

"Of course they're attentive. They're focused on it," said a NASA worker in Houston.

Col. Husband "had a lot to do [during re-entry]. I think it would be natural to ask questions if he was uncomfortable, but I think he was satisfied with the information," shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore told reporters yesterday.

Remains of all seven astronauts were received with honors yesterday at the specialized Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware.

Other officials said the crew had confidence in what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration called "the engineering truth" — that the launch-day collision would not cause a fatal accident. Yesterday Mr. Dittemore re-adopted that theory.

"We don't believe it's this chunk of foam. It's got to be something else that we don't know about yet," Mr. Dittemore said, holding high a suitcase-sized block of foam during a briefing at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"As you focus your attention on the debris, we're focusing our attention on what we didn't see," he told reporters as he distributed the 16-by-20-by-6-inch foam blocks so they could get a feel for the size and mass of the material involved.

"Right now it just does not make sense to us that a piece of debris could be the root cause for the loss of Columbia and its crew. There's got to be another reason," Mr. Dittemore said, suggesting that the shuttle disaster was caused by "another event" that escaped detection.

He did not say what that other event might have been as he contradicted his own early suggestions that the hardened foam broke loose and dislodged protective tiles from a vulnerable spot beneath the wing.

Mr. Dittemore, in Houston, and his boss, Deputy Associate Administrator Michael Kostelnik, in Washington, rejected published reports that undetected ice that somehow became embedded in the foam made it a more potent force than engineers assumed in declaring it was not a threat to the spacecraft.

"It might be obvious to some where the problem occurred. It's certainly not clear to us," said Gen. Kostelnik, who is retired from the Air Force.

Both men said the crew was kept informed of engineering discussions about the left wing.

"Our policy is we tell the crew everything. We don't hold anything back from the commander on the scene," said Mr. Dittemore, who said the shuttle commander hears the facts and rationale for a decision but would be too busy to discuss it by radio or in television interviews.

"You would feel comfortable, and you would get on with the work at hand, because he was a busy camper. He had a lot to do. I think it would be natural to ask questions if he was uncomfortable, but I think he was satisfied with the information," Mr. Dittemore said.

He said Col. Husband would have known fellow astronauts were involved in the assessment of the potential damage. Mr. Dittemore's comment was the first time NASA has disclosed that astronauts were involved in the evaluation. The decision was made that the incident posed no risk to the Columbia's safe return.

"He knew that his people, his astronaut friends, were involved in the analysis," Mr. Dittemore said. "We also give him the opportunity to talk to the ground. If he doesn't think he has enough information, we would be glad to provide him anything he desired."

"Nothing was kept from them. They knew," Gen. Kostelnik said.

Despite the daily engineering reports evaluating the insulation's impact on heat-shield tiles in a particularly vulnerable spot under the left wing, there is no evidence that Col. Husband ever questioned the finding.

His last radio transmission acknowledged the NASA ground controller who didn't understand Col. Husband's reply to a warning that temperatures in his left wheel well were rising fast.

"Roger, uh, buh ..."

From there, only static was heard, along with the steady voice of a Houston controller, at first confident that the silence was caused by normal electronic interference during the heat of re-entry.

"Columbia, Houston. Comm check," the controller said repeatedly. There was no further reply.

NASA officials rejected suggestions that ice reinforced the relatively fragile foam, adding weight that increased the mass when the insulation broke loose from the fuel tank at more than 1,200 miles per hour.

"I don't think it's ice. I don't think there's an embedded-ice question here," Mr. Dittemore said.

"Ice was not an issue on this launch on that day," Gen. Kostelnik said. In discussing the problem, however, he focused on the current weather and said there was no rain around launch day.

Gen. Kostelnik rejected new suggestions that a month of rain caused ice to build up within a particularly thick portion of fuel-tank insulating foam.

In another development yesterday, Mr. Dittemore rejected as "impossible" the claim by astronaut David M. Brown's brother that the crew was so concerned about the damaged left wing that astronauts took photos of it. The claim was relayed by Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, in a Senate floor speech Tuesday. Mr. Dittemore said the wing is not visible from the shuttle windows.


Profiles of Space Shuttle Columbia Crew

FOX News | 2/01/03 | AP

Commander Rick Husband has just one other spaceflight under his belt and already he's flying as commander. That's a rarity.

"I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time, for starters," says Husband, 45, an Air Force colonel from Amarillo, Texas.

The former test pilot was selected as an astronaut in 1994 on his fourth try. He made up his mind as a child that that was what he was going to do with his life.

"It's been pretty much a lifelong dream and just a thrill to be able to get to actually live it out," he says.

Another lifelong passion: singing.

Husband, a baritone, has been singing in church choirs for years. He used to sing in barbershop quartets, back during his school days.


Pilot William McCool says one of the most nerve-racking parts of training for this scientific research mission was learning to draw blood -- from others.

Columbia's two pilots are exempted from invasive medical tests in orbit, like blood draws. That means he and his commander have to draw blood from their crewmates.

McCool felt bad practicing on NASA volunteers.

"I didn't want to inflict pain," he recalls. "We weren't really gathering science, so everything that they were going through was for my benefit, and I guess I felt bad a little bit."

The 41-year-old Navy commander, a father of three sons, graduated second in his 1983 class at the Naval Academy. He went on to test pilot school and became an astronaut in 1996. This is his first spaceflight.

McCool grew up in Lubbock, Texas.


Payload commander Michael Anderson loves flying, both in aircraft and spacecraft, but he dislikes being launched.

It's the risk factor. "There's always that unknown," he says.

Anderson, 43, the son of an Air Force man, grew up on military bases.

"I was always fascinated by science-fiction shows, shows like 'Star Trek' and 'Lost in +Space+,"' he says. "And going out of your house and looking up and seeing jets fly by, that seemed like another very exciting thing to do. So I knew I wanted to fly airplanes, and I knew I wanted to do something really exciting, and I always had a natural interest in science.

"So it all kind of came together at a very young age, and I thought being an astronaut would be the perfect job."

Anderson was flying for the Air Force when NASA chose him in 1994 as one of only a handful of black astronauts. He traveled to Russia's Mir space station in 1998.

He is now a lieutenant colonel and in charge of Columbia's dozens of science experiments. His home is Spokane, Wash.


When Kalpana Chawla emigrated to the United States from India in the 1980s, she wanted to design aircraft. The space program was the furthest thing from her mind.

"That would be too far-fetched," says the 41-year-old engineer. But "one thing led to another," and she was chosen as an astronaut in 1994 after working at NASA's Ames Research Center and Overset Methods Inc. in Northern California.

On her only other spaceflight, in 1996, Chawla made a pair of mistakes that sent a science satellite tumbling out of control. Two other astronauts had to go out on a spacewalk to capture it.

"I stopped thinking about it after trying to figure out what are the lessons learned, and there are so many," she says. "After I had basically sorted that out, I figured it's time to really look at the future and not at the past."

She realizes some may see this flight as her chance to redeem herself.


David Brown is a Navy novelty: He's both a pilot and a doctor. He's also probably the only NASA astronaut to have worked as a circus performer.

Brown was a varsity gymnast at the College of William and Mary when he got a phone call one day: Would he like to join the circus? So during the summer of 1976, he was an acrobat, tumbler, stilt walker and 7-foot unicycle rider.

"What I really learned from that, and transfers directly to what I'm doing on this crew, is kind of the team work and the safety and the staying focused, even at the end of a long day when you're tired and you're doing some things that may have some risk to them."

He joined the Navy after his medical internship and went on to fly the A-6E Intruder and F-18. His current rank is captain.

NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1996. This is his first spaceflight; he will help with all the experiments.

Brown, 46, is taking up a flag from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va., his alma mater, that another graduate took up Mount Everest. "I'm going to get it a little bit higher up, but I won't have to walk as far to get it there."


Laurel Clark, a Navy physician who worked undersea, likens the numerous launch delays to a marathon in which the finish line keeps moving out five miles.

"You've got to slow back down and maintain a pace," she says.

The 41-year-old Clark was a diving medical officer aboard submarines and then a naval flight surgeon. She became an astronaut in 1996.

Her family, including her 8-year-old son, worry sometimes about her being an astronaut. But she tells everyone "what an aggressive safety program we have."

"To me, there's a lot of different things that we do during life that could potentially harm us and I choose not to stop doing those things," she notes. "They've all come to accept that it's what I want to do."

She will help with Columbia's science experiments, which should have flown almost two years ago.

Her home is Racine, Wis.


Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force, is the first Israeli to be launched into space.

"For Israel and for the Jewish community, it's something beyond being in space," he says. "It's a very symbolic mission."

His mother and grandmother survived the Auschwitz death camp, and his father was a Zionist who fought for Israel's statehood alongside his own father. The astronaut also fought for his country, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982.

"I was born in Israel as an Israeli, so I'm kind of a dream fulfillment for all this last-century generation," he says.

Ramon, 48, served as a fighter pilot during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, flying F-16s and F-4s. He was promoted in 1994 to lead Israel's department of operational requirement for weapon development and acquisition. He was selected as his country's first astronaut in 1997 and moved to Houston in 1998 to train for a shuttle flight.

He and his wife, Rona, have four children and call Tel Aviv home.

NOTE: Ramon's name seems to mean  RA=SUN -  MON=MOON

How ironic that the space capsule crashed in the area of Palestine, Texas


A Flame Ball Named Kelly

Flame balls onboard the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) have been doing some strange and wonderful things.

January 31, 2003: They're creatures of space: tiny flames that curl into balls and flit around like UFOs. They burn using almost no fuel at all, dim and often hard to see. Yet they have plenty of personality.

"[I'm calling this one] Howard," deadpanned astronaut Dave Brown onboard the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) this week. He had been filming the tiny flames for some time, watching them roam around their test chamber in a lifelike search of food (fuel), when the idea popped into his head. These flame balls needed names.

"After that everyone started naming them," says USC engineering professor Paul Ronney who designed the experiment. "It was fun. It also helped us keep track of some of the strange things we saw." For example, two flame balls flew around in a spiral pattern like DNA. "We called them Crick and Watson."

It's more than just fun, though. These flame ball experiments--called SOFBALL, short for Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis number--are serious investigations into the physics of fire.

Unlike flames on Earth, which have a tear drop shape caused by air rising in a gravitational field, flames in space break apart into spheres a few millimeters in diameter. A typical floating flame ball produces 1 to 2 watts of thermal power--much less than, say, a 50 watt birthday candle. "We created some flame balls on STS-107 that emitted only 0.5 watts--a record low," he says.

Flame balls are "lean" burners; they don't need much fuel to keep going. Engineers would love to duplicate their efficiency in the engines of automobiles, "but first we have to understand how flame balls work," says Ronney.

That's the goal of SOFBALL.

SOFBALL is a chamber about the size of an office trash can filled with combustible gases: "a little bit of hydrogen or methane (the fuel), some oxygen (the oxidant), and a lot of inert gas (e.g., helium or nitrogen) to dilute the mixture until it is barely flammable," says Ronney. The experiment rides in the shuttle's cargo bay inside a rack called the Combustion Module. Astronauts simply press a button to spark the mixture and voila ... flame balls. Their temperature, brightness, heat loss, and the composition of their gaseous byproducts are all monitored by built-in instruments. SOFBALL was built and tested at NASA's Glenn Research Center under the guidance of project scientist Karen Weiland and project manager Ann Over.

Above: The SOFBALL Experiment Mounting Structure (EMS) has a built-in spark ignitor, temperature sensors, a radiometer and more.

This is SOFBALL's second flight; the first was in 1997, also onboard Columbia (STS-83). In those days the experiment ran for only 8 minutes. "We didn't think flame balls could last more than a few minutes," explains Ronney, "but we were wrong. Many of them were still burning when SOFBALL's control computer automatically ended the test. We needed more time."

So, during STS-107, SOFBALL has operated for periods as long as three hours. And "we've seen some extraordinary things," says Ronney.

Crick and Watson are examples. Ronney says he has no idea what would make a flame ball fly around in a spiral. "Flame balls move for two reasons," he explains. "First, when they exhaust the fuel in their vicinity, they drift toward regions with more. They follow the fuel like a little organism. Second, they can drift due to slight accelerations of the shuttle." Neither of these effects would produce a corkscrew flight path.

Left: A spiraling flame ball. Image credit: Paul Ronney and the crew of the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107). [more video]

Howard is another example of something Ronney had never seen before. "Howard was suicidal," he says. Instead of following the fuel like a flame ball should, Howard headed straight for the walls of the chamber--a fuel-poor region. "He promptly went out. We saw several more flame balls like this, too." It's another mystery.

The SOFBALL experiment also produced the biggest and the smallest flame balls ever recorded--ranging from 2 mm to 15 mm across. "We named one of the biggest ones 'Zeldovich' after the Russian physicist who predicted flame balls in 1944." A well-meaning astronaut named one of the flame balls 'Paul Ronney,' "but it turned out to be small and short-lived--a wimp," Ronney laughed.

Oscillating flame balls were another first. "About 15 years ago John Buckmaster at the University of Illinois and Guy Joulin of CNRS in Poitiers, France, predicted that flame balls about to run out of fuel should oscillate. You've probably seen something like this in low burning candle flames, which jump up and down in a rhythmic pattern just before they go out. We had never observed these oscillations in flame balls before, but now we have--in two flame balls named Buckmaster and Joulin." The period and duration of the pulsations reveal a great deal about the inner workings of flame balls, adds Ronney. It's a very important result.

Ronney's favorite flame ball, though, is Kelly. "Before the mission began I said I wanted to send a flame ball around the world. Kelly almost made it." The shuttle circles Earth once every 90 minutes; Kelly burned for 81 minutes--the longest-lasting flame ball ever recorded.

"Kelly's experience is a fascinating example of group dynamics among flame balls," says Ronney. "She was created, one of nine flame balls, in a gaseous mixture of hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur hexaflouride (the inert filler). All the others began drifting around the chamber, looking for food, competing with one other, while Kelly remained motionless at the center. Before long, the others were exhausted; they had drifted too close to the walls and winked out. Kelly was left all alone with a chamber full of fuel."

"It pays to be patient," notes Ronney. And he should know. Ronney discovered flame balls in 1984 in a drop tower at NASA-Glenn in Ohio where the weightless lifetime of a flame ball is only a few seconds. He's been waiting almost 20 years for data like this....

There's a sign in Ronney's office: When the Gods want to punish you they answer your prayers. "It's going to take us years to analyze all these results!"

He's delighted.

Editor's note: Astronauts ignited and filmed 55 flame balls during the STS-107 mission (which is still ongoing as this story is being published); 33 of them received names after trend-setter Dave Brown christened one of his "Howard."

Click HERE for photos and videos

* Searchers Find Shuttle Nose Cone in Texas

Searchers Find Shuttle Nose Cone in Texas

By Joel Anderson

Associated Press

05 February 2003

HEMPHILL, Texas (AP) -- Investigators have made an important discovery in their hunt for rubble from space shuttle Columbia, locating the spacecraft's nose cone in a heavily wooded area of eastern Texas.

A crew was to return to the site Tuesday to excavate the cone, which was found partially buried in a hole described by state troopers as 20 feet wide.

"It's basically the front of the nose cone,'' said Warren Zehner, an Environmental Protection Agency senior on-scene coordinator. ``It's reasonably intact.''

The nose cone represents one of the biggest findings to date. Although the search for debris has turned up thousands of tiny shuttle pieces, the cone is one of the largest and most recognizable parts and could potentially provide insight into how the shuttle disintegrated over Texas on Saturday, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The shattered shuttle was effectively being reconstructed from an area larger than West Virginia. That includes the massive Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana state line, where divers using sonar equipment are searching for what authorities believe is a car-size chunk.

Some 12,000 pieces of debris had been collected in the region by late Monday afternoon. Although the search was grisly at times, with human remains reportedly found at 15 locations in Nacogdoches County alone, law officers were satisfied with the results.

"It was a very, very good day,'' Billy Smith, emergency management coordinator for three Texas counties, said Monday. ``This was probably one of the best days we've had.''

The cone was found a few miles from Hemphill, a town of about 1,200 people that has become a focus of the search. Hemphill is 130 miles northeast of Houston and Johnson Space Center.

State troopers near the site were stationed at a roadway to keep media and others from the area. Embedded in a tree near the nose cone was what appeared to be a black tile.

About 10 searchers emerged from the woods with bags full of debris, including metal objects. They filled a bed of a pickup truck with shuttle fragments.

The EPA, which is overseeing debris collection, has been using an airplane equipped with infrared sensors that can spot fragments that might be tainted with hazardous chemicals.

Using pushpins to mark debris sites, an independent investigative team headed by retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr. and NASA examiners have set up a command post at Louisiana's Barksdale Air Force Base, where some body parts and shuttle fragments were being collected.

NASA shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore said NASA was particularly interested in any pieces that may have fallen from Columbia as far west as New Mexico, Arizona or California. The FBI was checking reports of possible debris in Arizona.

"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack,'' Dittemore said, referring to tracking bits of the 6-by-6 inch thermal tiles that covered Columbia. ``But that is not going to keep us from looking for it.''

The recovery effort is daunting due to the size and scope of the debris field. It stretched west to east 380 miles from Eastland, Texas, to Alexandria, La., and north-south 230 miles from Sulphur Springs, Texas, to metropolitan Houston.

Louisiana state police confirmed more than two dozen chunks of debris in 11 different parishes. Authorities recovered a 3-by-4-foot metal panel with small holes from a thicket in Sabine Parish, on the Texas border. Vernon Parish chief deputy Calvin Turner said four chunks of metal were found in the parish

"We'll be finding stuff months down the road. I'd say hunting season is when people will be picking stuff up, or we'll never find it at all,'' Turner said.

Milton Breaux, a house painter from Scott, La., said he and a friend were fishing in a boat at 8 a.m. Saturday morning on the Toledo Bend Reservoir when they heard something hitting the water. He said he heard six to 10 splashes in three or four minutes.

"It made kind of a singing or sizzling sound when it was coming down,'' he said. "What I guess were the smaller things made a sound like a rifle firing when they hit the water. The bigger ones sounded more like a shotgun blast hitting.''

* The Investigation: NASA to Re-Examine Debris Impact from Columbia Launch

The Investigation: NASA to Re-Examine Debris Impact from Columbia Launch

By Jim Banke

Senior Producer, Cape Canaveral Bureau

04 February 2003

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Shuttle engineers plan to repeat from scratch their analysis of the damage a piece of falling debris from Columbia's external tank might make on the orbiter's heat protection tiles, program chief Ron Dittemore said Monday.

Captured on film some 80 seconds after the Jan. 16 launch of Columbia, a small chunk of insulating foam could be seen breaking loose of the orange tank and hitting the orbiter’s left wing. This has become the center of attention for the investigation into what happened in the skies high over Texas on Saturday.

Initial studies of the incident during the days following liftoff came to the conclusion that Columbia and its crew were in no grave danger, a fact that was shared with the seven astronauts during the flight.

"The conclusion was that the debris that impacted the vehicle did not represent a threat to the safety of the crew or the vehicle," Dittemore said.

NASA managers have admitted as early as the first press briefing on Saturday that they could have been wrong, and since the link between the falling debris and damage to heat protection tiles followed by loss of vehicle and crew is so great, they want to take another look.

"Although that may, in fact, wind up being the cause -- it may certainly be the leading candidate right now -- we have to go through all the evidence and then rule things out very methodically in order to arrive at the cause," William Readdy, NASA's top spaceflight manager, said Monday.

But first the NASA space community at Johnson Space Center in Houston will take Tuesday off to celebrate the lives of Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Mike Anderson, David Brown and Israel's Ilan Ramon -- and to mourn their loss.

"We're going to pause and reflect upon the crew of Columbia, their lives, their contributions, their memory and although we can not stop our investigation and the recovery effort, we will pause in this location to take the time to reflect upon their lives and their sacrifice," Dittemore said.

The private ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) Tuesday and will be attended by NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, dignitaries from Israel, family members of the crew lost in the 1986 Challenger disaster and many others who work at the space center.

President and Mrs. Bush are scheduled to participate. President George Bush senior and his wife Barabara visited JSC on Monday and also took time to speak with the Expedition Six crew aboard the International Space Station.

Another memorial service is planned in Washington, D.C. at the National Cathedral on Thursday, and here at the Cape officials are putting together plans for a service at the Shuttle Landing Facility Friday morning at the hour Columbia was due at the runway.

New data

Dittemore added new information about the timeline of events the led to Columbia's loss on Saturday.

At 8:52 a.m. EST (1352 GMT), one minute earlier than the start of events previously discussed, three sensors in the left-hand wheel well -- where the main landing gear is stowed during the mission -- detected a rise in temperature.

"This was the first event, the first occurrence of a significant thermal event in the wheel well on the left-hand side," Dittemore said.

At 8:53 a.m. EST (1353 GMT), two wheel well sensors previously mentioned as detecting a rise in temperature of 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in five minutes are now believed to have seen a rise of 30 to 40 degrees.

At 8:55 a.m. EST (1355 GMT), a fifth sensor in the landing gear area showed an unusual temperature rise.

At 8:57 a.m. EST (1357 GMT), two sensors on the left wings upper and lower skin failed.

At 8:59 a.m. EST (1359 GMT), in addition to the left wing's flap moving to help steer the shuttle back on course due to increasing drag from the left wing's surface, Columbia's nose steering jets automatically fired for 1.5 seconds to help with the correction.

"The aero surfaces were doing what they needed to do to counteract the drag on the left side of the vehicle. The right yaw jets had to kick in to help the aero surfaces and it appears that we were losing ground as far as the rate of attitude excursion. It was not long after that point that we lost all data and communication with the crew," Dittemore said.

He also mentioned that an additional 32 seconds of computer data that may be available is taking more time to retrieve and process than first thought. It will likely require specialists making a trip to White Sands, N.M. to the communications ground station there to get at the originally-recorded data and make sense of it.

Debris details

Dittemore reviewed the process by which NASA engineers and managers examined the debris falling from the external tank and determined it would not be a mission-threatening deal.

First, the timeline: Launch was on Jan. 16, the first film reviews were on Jan. 17 and the first engineering meetings were on Jan. 20. Initial results were reported on Jan. 21, final engineering reviews took place Jan. 23 and 24, and reports to the senior Mission Management Team were made on Jan. 24 and 27.

"Both those times reporting to the Mission Management Team the conclusion was that the debris that impacted the vehicle did not represent a threat to the safety of the crew or the vehicle," Dittemore said.

Second, the assumptions the analysis was based on: The size of the debris was 20 inches by 16 inches by 6 inches, and the weight was 2.67 pounds. The size was based on examining the launch films and previous experience with foam detaching from the tank.

Using a computer model developed through the years for this very purpose, engineers studied how the tiles might be damaged depending upon the angle the debris hit -- estimated to be between 10 and 16 degrees -- and with varying weights of debris.

After crunching the numbers, the worst case scenario was that either one tile near the left-hand landing gear door would be completely broken free of the orbiter, or several tiles would be grazed, their top layers shaved off in an area roughly 32 inches long and seven inches wide.

It has generally been believed in the past that any significant damage to the black heat protection tiles on the belly of the shuttle could, at the very least, cause some melting of the structure immediately underneath -- if not the complete loss of vehicle and crew.

Dittemore said that was not the conclusion they reached.

"Even though you might have localized structural damage, you would not have damage sufficient to cause a catastrophic event, nor impact the flying qualities of the vehicle," he said.

Could Crew have been Rescued? Options were Limited

By Marcia Dunn

Associated Press Aerospace Writer

02 February 2003

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- If liftoff damage to Columbia's thermal tiles caused the disaster, was the crew doomed from the very start?

Or could NASA have saved all or some of the seven astronauts by trying some Hollywood-style heroics -- a potentially suicidal spacewalk, perhaps, or a rescue mission by another shuttle?

Some of the ideas that have been suggested would have been highly impractical, dangerous and perhaps futile.

The shuttle does not carry spare tiles, and NASA insists there was nothing on board that the crew could have used to repair or replace missing or broken ones. In any case, the space agency believed at the time that the tile damage was nothing to worry about and thus nothing worth risking a life over.

Still, as James Oberg, a former shuttle flight controller and author who has been bombarded by ``Armageddon''-type rescue ideas via e-mail, said Sunday: ``They may be implausible, but not by much.'' He added: ``There's always the question of miracles.''

NASA knew from Day Two of Columbia's 16-day research mission that a piece of the insulating foam on the external fuel tank peeled off just after liftoff and struck the left wing, possibly ripping off some of the tiles that keep the ship from burning up when it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

A frame-by-frame analysis of launch video and film clearly showed a clump of something streaking away from Columbia 80 seconds into the flight.

Engineers spent days analyzing the situation and concluded that there was no reason for concern. The flight director in charge of Columbia's Jan. 16 launch and Saturday's descent from orbit, Leroy Cain, assured reporters as much on Friday.

But hours after the disaster, shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore acknowledged that NASA might have been wrong and that wing damage on launch day might have contributed to or even caused Columbia to disintegrate on re-entry.

"It's one of the areas we're looking at first, early, to make sure that the investigative team is concentrating on that theory or that set of facts as we are starting to unfold,'' NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said Sunday.

Dittemore himself said: ``My thoughts are on what we missed, what I missed, to allow this to happen.''

Some facts remain:

NASA did not attempt to examine Columbia's left wing with high-powered telescopes on the ground, 180 miles below, or with spy satellites. The last time NASA tried that, to check Discovery's drag-chute compartment during John Glenn's shuttle flight in 1998, the pictures were of little use, Dittemore said. Besides, he said, ``there was zero we could have done about it.''

Similarly, NASA did not ask the crew of international space station to use its cameras to examine the wing when the two ships passed within a few hundred miles of each other several times over the past two weeks.

NASA did not consider a spacewalk by the crew to inspect the left wing. The astronauts are not trained or equipped to repair tile damage anywhere on the shuttle, least of all on a relatively inaccessible area like the underside of a wing, Dittemore said.

Could NASA have sent another shuttle to rescue Columbia's five men and two women?

In theory, yes.

Normally, it takes four months to prepare a shuttle for launch. But in a crisis, shuttle managers say they might be able to put together a launch in less than a week if all testing were thrown out the window and a shuttle were already on the pad.

Columbia had enough fuel and supplies to remain in orbit until Wednesday, and the astronauts could have scrimped to stay up another few days beyond that. With shuttle Atlantis ready to be moved to its pad, it theoretically could have been rushed into service, and Columbia's astronauts could have climbed aboard in a series of spacewalks. If Atlantis flew with the minimum crew of two, it could have accommodated seven more astronauts.

Could Columbia's astronauts have abandoned ship and climbed aboard the international space station?

Because Columbia was in an entirely different orbit than the space station, it did not have enough fuel to fly to the orbiting outpost. Even if the shuttle could have limped there, it could not have docked. Columbia was not equipped with a docking ring since it was never meant to go there. So the shuttle astronauts would have had to float over in spacesuits to get there.

Could Columbia's astronauts have gone out on a spacewalk to inspect and perhaps repair their own ship?

That assumes, first of all, that the astronauts could have rigged up something, ``Apollo 13''-style, to replace the missing tiles. But there was nothing on board, according to Dittemore and others. Back in the early shuttle days, NASA considered a tile-patching kit that was essentially a caulking gun, but the gunk undermined the performance of the tiles and never flew.

Two of Columbia's astronauts, Michael Anderson and David Brown, were trained to do a spacewalk, and they had the suits to do it. But neither was trained to do anything more than a relatively simple emergency repair, like freeing a stuck radio antenna or fixing a jammed latch that could cause the ship to burn up during re-entry.

Moreover, a spacewalk to reach the underside of the wings could have been suicidal, because there is nothing to hold on to, and the astronauts did not have mini-jetpacks to propel themselves. The astronauts could have floated off and never gotten back to the shuttle.

Anderson theorized just last summer on how he would go about reaching a trapdoor on the belly of the shuttle that was stuck open, in order to close it. He would have had to rig a 60-foot tether to a weighted bag, lasso it over one of the wings, and then crawl along the line hand over hand to reach the jammed trapdoor.

The chance of all this working, within the eight-to-nine-hour limit of a spacewalk, is practically zilch. The spacewalkers probably would not have had enough oxygen to make it back inside.

And Dittemore said Sunday they could easily have worsened the situation anyway. ``Just the nature of them trying to position themselves in space underneath the vehicle could cause more damage than what we were trying to fix,'' he said.

In theory, NASA could have had the shuttle descend through the atmosphere at a much shallower angle of entry in hopes of relieving the heat on the ship. But that could have life-threatening dangers, too. That kind of a flight profile almost certainly would have had the shuttle coming in too fast to make a safe landing.

If it was determined that there was no way Columbia and crew could survive an re-entry, and another spacecraft could not reach them in time, they would have been stuck in orbit for a couple of months before being dragged down through the atmosphere in a fireball.

"It would be visible at dawn and dusk and that would be pretty creepy,'' Oberg said. ``But on the other hand, that would be also a memorial. It would be a Viking funeral."

Columbia Probe: Major Parts Found; Search Expanded to California, Arizona

David McAlary

VOA NEWS Washington

05 Feb 2003, 01:18 UTC

The length of the debris strewn from the ill-fated space shuttle Columbia Saturday could be much longer than previously thought. The U.S. space agency, NASA, says it has reports that the shuttle may have begun disintegrating as early as California, thousands of kilometers west of Texas, where most of it dispersed.

NASA has sent search teams to the far western U.S. states of California and Arizona to check reports that pieces of Columbia fell there as the orbiter was on its doomed return to Earth.

Most of the debris landed in central Texas, with some in neighboring Louisiana to the east.

A top NASA official, Michael Kostelnik, said the California and Arizona debris reports are credible and important. "Certainly, early debris early in the flight path would be critical because, obviously, that material would be near the start of the events. It would clearly be very important to see the material earliest in the sequence," he explained.

If the reports are confirmed, that would mean the disintegration spread shuttle parts across two-thirds of the continental United States.

"It's a very long, unprecedented track to deal with. So there really are few contingencies that you could compare this with. There is not a lot of experience," explained Mr. Kostelnik.

He added that the reported pieces in California and Arizona might be wing parts or insulating tiles that protect shuttles against searing re-entry heat of temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius or more. If so, they could help investigators determine if critical damage occurred during launch when a piece of hard foam insulation flew off a booster rocket and hit the shuttle's left wing and tiles.

The tiles and left wing have become the early focus of the accident investigation after NASA engineers found that the shuttle's left side heated to unusually high temperatures as it flew over California. That might be because of possible damage to or loss of tiles.

NASA mission control learned that foam struck the wing by viewing launch films the day after takeoff. Space agency technicians conducted an exhaustive analysis into whether wing or tile damage could have occurred. They concluded while Columbia was still in orbit that it would not affect flight safety. But they have begun to question their original finding and re-analyze their data.

Mr. Kostelnik said search teams are also in the process of recovering large, dense pieces of the shuttle that fell in Louisiana, including one or more of the engines.

So far, about 12,000 shuttle pieces have been located. The NASA official said the priority is to remove debris that might be a public hazard and to find the rest of the remains of the seven astronauts killed in the disaster. The goal, he noted, is to find all the large parts and a high percentage of the rest.

"We will do the best we can with the resources, and I think it will take weeks rather than months to get this job done," said Mr. Kostelnik.

Earlier Tuesday, a Russian rocket docked with the international space station, carrying new supplies for the three U.S. and Russian crewmembers aboard. The maneuver would normally be of little general interest, but the moratorium on shuttle flights during the Columbia probe means that supplying and switching station crews depends completely on Russian spacecraft, and that construction is on hold.

A key question is how and when to carry out the next crew exchange, which was scheduled for March. Mr. Kostelnik said a fresh team could go up in April on a Soyuz rocket, a mission that had already been scheduled to replace an existing Soyuz escape vehicle at the station. The current crew could return on the older Soyuz. But he points out that no decisions have yet been made.

Camera catches electric bolt striking shuttle

FEBRUARY 05, 2003 03:23:39 PM ]

WASHINGTON: There is probably more besides what has been said about possible reasons for the Columbia disaster last weekend.

The investigators are said to be analysing a startling photograph -- taken by an amateur astronomer from a San Francisco hillside -- that apparently shows a purplish electric bolt striking the space shuttle as it streaked across the California sky.

The digital image is one of five snapped by the shuttle buff at roughly 5:53 am on Saturday as sensors on the doomed orbiter began showing the first indications of trouble. Seven minutes later, the craft broke up in flames over Texas.

The photographer requested anonymity, saying he would not release the image to the public until Nasa experts had time to examine it, according to

On Tuesday, Nasa dispatched former shuttle astronaut Tammy Jernigan, now a manager at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, to the San Francisco home of the astronomer to examine his digital images and to take the camera itself to Mountain View, where it was to be transported by a Nasa T-38 jet to Houston.

Jernigan questioned the photographer on the aperture of the camera, the direction he faced and the estimated exposure time -- about four to six seconds on the automatic Nikon 880 camera. It was mounted on a tripod, and the shutter was triggered manually.

The report says that in the critical shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, and then fades.

It was an astounding day for the San Francisco photographer, who said he had not had any success in reaching Nasa through its published telephone hot lines. He ultimately reached investigators through a connection with a relative who attends the same church as former astronaut Jack Lousma, who flew 24 million miles in the Skylab 3 mission in 1973.

Lousma put him in direct touch with Ralph Roe Jr., chief engineer for the shuttle programme at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, the report added.

After a series of telephone conversations on Tuesday afternoon, the photographer had a veteran shuttle mission specialist knocking at his door by dinnertime. Within hours, he was left with a receipt, and his camera was on its way to Houston.


Thursday, February 6, 2003

Shuttle photo shows purplish bolt in sky

Amateur astronomer gives up his camera for investigation



Top investigators of the Columbia space shuttle disaster are analyzing a startling photograph -- snapped by an amateur astronomer from a San Francisco hillside -- that appears to show a purplish electrical bolt striking the craft as it streaked across the California sky.

The digital image is one of five snapped by the shuttle buff at 5: 53 a.m. Saturday as sensors on the doomed orbiter began showing the first indications of trouble. Seven minutes later, the craft broke up in flames over Texas.

The photographer requested that his name not be used and said he would not release the image to the public until NASA experts had time to examine it.

Although there are several possible benign explanations for the image -- such as a barely perceptible jiggle of the camera as it took the time exposure -- NASA's zeal to examine the photo demonstrates the lengths to which the agency is going to tap the resources of ordinary Americans in solving the puzzle.

Late Tuesday, NASA dispatched former shuttle astronaut Tammy Jernigan, now a manager at California's Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, to the San Francisco home of the astronomer to examine his digital images and to take the camera itself to Mountain View, Calif., where it was to be transported by a NASA T-38 jet to Houston.

A San Francisco Chronicle reporter was present when the astronaut arrived. First seeing the image on a large computer screen, she had one word: "Wow."

Jernigan quizzed the photographer on the aperture of the camera, the direction he faced and the estimated exposure time -- about four to six seconds on the automatic Nikon 880 camera. It was mounted on a tripod, and the shutter was triggered manually.

In the critical shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below.

As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades.

"It certainly appears very anomalous," said Jernigan. "We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this."

Jernigan flew five shuttle missions herself during the 1990s, including three on Columbia. On her last flight, the pilot of the craft was Rick Husband, who was at the controls when Columbia perished.

NASA Engineer Foresaw Shuttle Disaster

Wreckage Arrives in Florida

Feb. 13, 2003 — Two days before the end of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia, a NASA engineer raised the possibility of a catastrophe caused by the overheating of landing gear, which he said was likely to result in a potentially disastrous tire blowout while the spacecraft was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

In an internal memorandum dated Jan. 30 and titled "Main Gear Breach concerns," made public late Wednesday by NASA, the engineer, Robert Daugherty, considered the possibility that debris that some believe damaged the left wing of Columbia during takeoff could have also seriously damaged the door of the wheel well.

Eighty seconds after Columbia's launch on Jan. 16, a chunk of insulating foam separated from the central external fuel tank located under the belly of the shuttle. The foam struck protective tiles under the left wing of Columbia.

Between Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, engineers held a series of meetings to evaluate the extent of the damage to the tiles caused by the debris. On Jan. 28, flight managers concluded the impact had not hurt the shuttle to the point endangering its re-entry into the atmosphere.

But two days later, Daugherty, whose opinion had been requested, shared his concern with the flight managers. The foam, he explained, could have damaged the door of the wheel well, thus exposing the landing gear made of aluminum to enormous outside temperatures.

"The reason might be that ... the wheel (aluminum) will lose material properties as it heats up and the tire pressure will increase," he wrote. "At some point the wheel could fail and send debris everywhere."

Daugherty suggested that the wheel might degrade in strength enough and burst. "It seems to me that with that much carnage in the wheel well, something could get screwed up enough to prevent deployment (of the wheel), and there you are in a world of hurt," he pointed out, raising the possibility of the shuttle crash landing on its belly.

Daugherty also suggested that overheating could set off small explosive charges designed to help deploy the landing gear in the event of it getting stuck, and damage other parts such as hydraulic systems.

David Lechner of United Space Alliance, a NASA subcontractor, to whom the e-mail was addresses, gave the following response: "I really appreciate your candid remarks... Your input is beneficial. Like everyone, we hope that the debris impact analysis is correct and all this discussion is moot."

NASA did not make any comment as it released the document. But it is possible to say its publication at this stage of the investigation was certainly not accidental because the scenario it paints sends chills down the spine. According to NASA, the first anomalies leading to the shuttle's disintegration were reported in the wheel well as Columbia hurtled towards the Earth at the speed of more than 21,000 kilometers (12,600 miles) an hour.

Mission control in Houston detected abnormal variations of temperatures in the hydraulic systems of the left landing gear, then a sudden loss of data from all of the wing. At that same moment, an alarm went off on the screen in front of Columbia's commander, Rick Husband, apparently indicating problems with tire pressure.

He pushed a button, indicating he had taken note of it, a signal that was immediately relayed to ground control. At this moment, a controller in Houston called the shuttle acknowledging the message on the pressure of the tires.

Husband started to respond but then radio went silent.

Testifying to a congressional committee meeting on the Columbia disaster on Wednesday, NASA chief Sean O'Keefe said no problem had been detected on the doomed shuttle during its 16-day space flight.

"If something had been really wrong, it would have showed up during the 16-day mission," he told the panel comprising members of both House and Senate. "There are more than 4,000 sensors on board the shuttle."

Columbia disintegrated over Texas Feb. 1 shortly after re-entering the earth's atmosphere and minutes prior to its scheduled landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla., killing all seven astronauts aboard.

"All the information we now have do not show anything," said the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Based on our assessment there was no systemic failure."

He did not rule out the possibility that Columbia's age -- it was the first of five US space shuttles to be deployed in the early 1980s -- could have been a factor, but said the quality of NASA's maintenance of the shuttle fleet made that unlikely. Columbia, like all the shuttles, was completely dismantled, tested and upgraded every eight to ten flights, O'Keefe said. It had recently been overhauled and its final flight was only the second since the latest upgrade, he said.

"We will find the problem that caused the loss of Columbia and its crew, we will fix it, and we will return to flight operations that are as safe as humanly possible in pursuit of knowledge," O'Keefe told the panel.

Meanwhile, a group of NASA experts are expected in Moscow this week for talks with Russian officials on future flights to the International Space Station (ISS), Russia's Rosaviakosmos space agency said Wednesday.

"They will discuss the make-up of future crews and the timetable for the launch of (Russian) spacecraft towards the ISS," space agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov told AFP. "Final decisions on these questions must be taken by the heads of all the space agencies which are participating in the ISS project," Gorbunov added.

Canada, the European Space Agency, Japan, Russia and the United States are involved in the 16-nation project.

Wing piece is from left side: NASA

February 11, 2003


SPACE CENTER, Houston--After three days of uncertainty, NASA said Monday a piece of broken wing found last week was from space shuttle Columbia's left side--where all the problems appear to have begun in the doomed flight.

The fragment includes a 2-foot piece of carbon composite, a material that covered the leading edge of the wing, and a 1-1/2-foot piece of the wing itself. Engineers are not yet certain where the piece fits.

It could be extremely important, given that the trouble apparently originated in the left wing during the final minutes before the Feb. 1 flight broke up above Texas, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Barely a minute after liftoff Jan. 16, a piece of insulating foam from Columbia's external fuel tank broke off and slammed into the ship's left wing.

The impact by the flyaway foam--exonerated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from having caused serious damage--remains a central part of the investigation. In the final minutes of flight, some sensors in the left wing and in the left wheel well showed unusual spikes in temperature.

After the wing fragment was found last Friday, NASA's deputy associate administrator for spaceflight, Michael Kostelnik, called it ''a significant recovery.''

NASA was checking the carbon panel and the silica glass-fiber thermal tiles for evidence of burning, either from the intense heat of re-entry or from something else.

''That's something that the engineers would be looking for,'' Kostelnik said.

NASA said it also has found the cover of one of the two landing gear compartments, another potentially critical piece because a temperature surge inside the left wheel well was the first sign of trouble. But officials do not know whether it's from the right or left side.

Another incident highlighted confusion among top NASA officials as to what wreckage is being found--and where.

Bill Readdy, NASA's top spaceflight official, said one of the shuttle's main computers had been found in a Texas field ''apparently in fairly good condition.'' He later said he was told it was an avionics box--one of more than 300 on the spacecraft.


Web Sites With Shuttle Information

Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

NASA Shuttle:

Kennedy Space Center:

Houston Space Center:

NASA Multimedia Gallery:

WFAA debris video:

NASA Shuttle Launches:

Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland:

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.:


Date: 2/1/2003 5:07:58 PM Pacific Standard Time


Is Nasa In "Lock Down"?...02/01/03

by Mitch Battros (ECTV)

Before I get into several issues of speculation, on behalf of the Earth Changes TV staff, I give our heart felt condolences to the seven shuttle crew members, their family, and the many support staff who worked closely with them. It is nothing less than a tragedy with innocent lives lost.

I have received unconfirmed reports that Nasa is in "lock down". No one is allowed in or out. An intense and personal investigation is currently taking place. CIA, NSA, FBI, and other government agencies are involved. The reason for this may be due to speculation of foul play. It has been documented that last word made by a Columbia shuttle crew member, thought to be Colonel Rick Husband, was "buh". This has led some to believe the word was "bomb".

I know many Nasa employee's and contractors monitor the ECTV site. If you are one, please send as much information as you can officially or unofficially.

Support for this scenario is the fact Nasa lost contact for a short period, then regained transmission and heard the last word to be "buh". There is also speculation surrounding Israel's first spaceman Ilan  Ramon, a former fighter pilot and weapons specialist, fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in the 1982 war in Lebanon. In 1981, he was a member of the mission to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor before it became online.

Why Was FEMA Put In Charge?

Here is an email I received from Dr. Bruce Cornet. The letter is from a colleague of his, and has asked to seek help in distributing his message.

Bruce: spread to all of your contacts, PLEASE: I have been interviewed by CBS channel 11 Dallas, and will soon call a 'Press Conference' here in Cleburne, regarding the 'air borne' dangers of 'T.P.S.', which is Polymeric Isocyanade (sp) I have ALL of my NASA training booklets and IDs, that the public is not being warned about this. This by-product is used in the insulation of the external tank, as well as the tiles on the shuttle. Once blown apart: the particles become as air borne as dust from a window drape. I know. I worked in 'Final Testing' as you know. I have samples of T.P.S., which I will show to the news people who do show up. We need your help. I only have the one phone line that I am keeping open for the TV news people, so tell all you can. The debris area is the focal point, and the prevailing winds. Should moisture hit even a particle of TPS: it will break apart further by hundreds . . . More later . . .

God Bless . . .

Jason ("Jason Leigh" <>)

In addition to Jason Leigh's alarming letter, the following is posted on the CNN website:

"If you find Debris Johnson Space Center officials asked those who find debris, call 281 483-3388"

For The Esoterically Minded

The following is a email sent by Deb Huglin giving a astrological perspective:

Dear Mitch,

I was busy this morning. About the Space Shuttle: I just had a look at the 90-degree stuff.

A) The problem started at about 6:24 AM Central Time.

B) One or more of the Shuttle Crew had Saturn at 12 Aquarius, 12 Scorpio, 12 Taurus or 12 Leo.

C) That one or both the women on board got agitated about the situation on board as the Sun became conjunct with the Ascendant, and was midpoint between moon/Neptune (as well as being within 2 degrees of each of them.)

D) That the Crew mistakenly thought they had it under control at the same time, because Jupiter is opposite the Sun (1 degree orb) and in 90 degrees also midpoint between Moon/Saturn as well as being opposite the Asc.

E) C & D occurred at about 7:25 AM CST.

F) At 8:00 AM CST I bet they saw the tiles peeling off and flying by the windshield…possibly even the cause of the crash…superheat and windshield damage.

The old Shuttle had problems with the heat reflecting tiles coming loose right from the start of it’s career new. We need new shuttles with porcelain mesh casings instead of glued and screwed tiles. The technology is there.

I think I will post this over on the Syzygy site if I can find a place...just to see where it goes.

Deb (

Watch for more information as it unfolds...

Mitch Battros

Producer - Earth Changes TV






PREVIOUS PROBLEMS  (From 2000 - The Flight of Discovery)

Space shuttle launch postponed until Monday

Special report: space exploration

Friday October 6, 2000

Space shuttle Discovery's flight to the international space station has been postponed until next week because of a sluggish valve and suspect bolts.

Nasa called off last night's launch because of last-minute concerns over bolts on the external fuel tank. A valve problem found later in the shuttle's main propulsion system delayed liftoff until at least Monday.

The valve, which controls the flow of fuel, appeared to be sluggish during routine operations. Workers will have to enter Discovery's engine compartment to check the valve; to replace it, if necessary, will take three days.

This 100th space shuttle flight is a crucial space station construction mission. Nasa, however, is in no rush.

"We think it's prudent to stand down," shuttle manager James Halsell said. "In other words, we do not want to get 'go fever."'

Before launching Discovery, Nasa also wants to understand what caused a bolt malfunction on the last space shuttle flight. The problem occurred during Atlantis' liftoff on September 8, but was discovered only Wednesday.

While analysing film returned to Earth aboard Atlantis two weeks ago, engineers noticed that one of the three bolts between Atlantis and the external fuel tank did not retract properly eight minutes into the flight. Photographs showed some of the bolt sticking out on the tank.

Nasa wants to determine, among other things, whether the bolt malfunction poses a danger. At worst, a protruding bolt could cause the separated tank to tumble and slam into the shuttle.

"I think the word you use would be 'catastrophic,"' said Halsell, himself a shuttle pilot. "I would not want to expose astronauts to that risk."

Halsell said Nasa remains committed to launching space shuttles seven or eight times a year. Next time, though, the space agency may try to analyse the film more quickly, he noted.

The troublesome bolt from Atlantis is at the bottom of the Atlantic, along with what is left of the rest of the external fuel tank. The 153-foot, rust-coloured tank is jettisoned once the shuttle reaches orbit.

There is evidence of bolt problems on previous flights, including Endeavour's launch in February, said launch manager Bill Gerstenmaier. But the bolts have never protruded like this, he said.

Nasa would not speculate on how long it would take to replace or fix the bolts on Discovery's fuel tank, if that became necessary.

"We hold out all hope that through analysis... we can make ourselves feel comfortable that we're safe to go fly," Halsell said. "I also want to say our minds are wide open; to the possibility of a lengthy delay, he added.

Discovery holds two new segments for the international space station, a girderlike truss and a docking port for future shuttle visits.

Nasa wants these parts installed before the first permanent crew lifts off at the end of the month.

Nasa usually has more time between flights to review all the data from the previous mission, but has quickened its launch pace to build the international space station.

The minimum number of days allowed between shuttle launches is 21. This gap would have been 27 days if Discovery had soared Thursday.



Today is a sad day; another shuttle disaster and seven brave people died. But this event has some possible symbolic meanings and I feel that I should make this post.

The name of the shuttle was "Columbia", which according to the Webster's New World Revised Dictionary is: (old poetry) the U.S. personified as a woman.

Now, observers saw fragments or tiles from the shuttle coming off over the Owens Valley in California. The explosion occurred over the central part of Texas, which is the state our President was born in. The event as shown by one camera was a brilliant flash followed by a long debris tail, some of which fell near Palestine, Texas. An Israeli colonel was on the shutle, as was an Indian woman (now U.S. citizen).

I feel that this has dire implications for the future status of this country and for Israel and Palestine.



Forwarded Message:

Subj: Fwd: Re: number 7 signifigance

Date: 2/1/2003 5:41:04 PM Pacific Standard Time

--- In, "bouddhaus <lipikar@XXX..>"

Without coming to this site, here is what I posted at another site...

Columbia and numbers

This is my first note about the Space Shuttle Columbia. This note is about numbers.

The Shuttle was launched on January the 16th, and it crashed 16 minutes before landing, on the 16th and last day of its journey.

That`s 3 rounds of 16 and not just 2, which is what I usually pick up…twos of everything. <snip> Note also that the name Columbia consists of 8 letters, exactly half of 16, and there were 7 crew members on board (1+6).


1-24-2003 -   DREAM - I was working with some people and seeing what they were going through, yet looking at it from afar like I was hovering above it.

I was looking down on a large area of the U.S. like it was a 3D map. My perspective was such that I was like in the Seattle area, looking southeast.

There were pegs/posts embedded on this map, equally spaced over the entire U.S.

Each peg/post had a number similar to a zip code.

At the number 8090, which looked like it was on the Gulf coast of Texas, the wind was so strong, it was whipping up the waves of the ocean so that they were coming half way up the sides of the buildings that lined the shore.

My sight zoomed in so I was with the people. The wind was so strong, they could barely stand up against it. The people tried to put up long tunnel-like barricades against the wind, but it was impossible to work in such conditions.

Again, I was looking at the map from afar and I saw the peg/post number 4090, which again was by the ocean shore in the area of Alabama or Northern Florida where it stretches along the coast.

Here I saw the white Dove of Peace come flying in to land amongst the people.


Subj: Re: [earthchanges] An Important Dream 1-24-2003

Date: 1/24/2003 8:33:55 AM Pacific Standard Time

From: newagesister@xxx


I do dream interpretations for people and I must tell you that this dream sounds more like a vision to me. A prophetic one. Here is a possible meaning of 4090: The earth, unity and beginnings, the end of one cycle and the beginning of another, followed by unity and beginnings again.

And if my numerology isn't wrong 4090 breaks down in the number 4 meaning Earth. Which is almost like this is a meaning within a meaning.

8090 could mean Death, resurrection, beginnings, end of one cycle and the beginning of another, followed by new beginnings again. The numerology break down of this one would be 8 which is a number of death in dream interpretations.

Don't forget this dream, Dee. I think it is prophetic. Note how your mind picked numbers that seemed to fit with the events that you were seeing.

In peace,

NewAgeSister (Cami)

Just heard on CNN that there is debris as far east as Lousiana, so this also fits with my last posting about the numbers.

Re: [greatdreams-forum] Shuttle STS107

Date: 2/1/2003 2:46:55 PM Pacific Standard Time

From: sheila@xxx


We were listening to Bill Handel (on KFI radio) this morning and he goes into depth on news stories with details to "get a handle on the news" and he mentioned that the shuttle has to TURN AROUND and enter and then it turns around again and reenters the atmosphere BACKWARDS. I didn't know that -- how did my dream character know that? Also, the second clip from my dream-- about the B52 type fins and the black paint -- the shuttle is a glider.... there were also about 7 black birds in sillouette flying away from the shuttle. I think even if we dream about this too late to save them -- obviously they were already in the air on 1/31/03 -- we can at least try to piece together the story of what really happened to them so that they aren't swept under the rug or forgotten.

My dream from 1/31/03 -- I date my dreams from the night before and they end on the morning of the date, so this was the dream of the morning of 1/31/03: Then we tunnel very fast horizontally (the previous tunnels were verticle) and end up in Madison County, Iowa. I drive and start down the highway north towards Interstate 80 on Highway 169 but after I drive absent mindedly for awhile I see that I'm on a highway with no curbs, 2-lane, and the passenger says, "why did you take this road?" This road goes east west and leads to Clark Tower outside Winterset (where Oprah went on-site for one show). I say sheepishly that I'll have to try to turn around and go back but when I look in the rear view and see a lot of cars behind me and there are soft shoulders I am at a loss momentarily and start to look for a sideroad to turn on. As soon as I see a side road, fog closes in and I can't see anything and I panic on the unfamiliar road but the fog clears again and I see that the pavement ends entirely and it becomes a dirt road. I look in the rear view again and the other cars have disbursed and maybe I can make a U-turn at the end of the pavement and go back but the passenger grabs the wheel and I have to back up twice to get turned around and end up continuing on in the same direction I was going before down the dirt road. My leg is so tired I can barely lift it to step on the brake so I'm afraid of backing into the ditch as usual. I decide to just see where the dirt road goes and right away come to water,

Then I decide to write the dream down and get out my dream notebook in the dream and open it to find some pages are blank that I accidentally skipped in the middle. I flip a few pages and the first page I look at has a drawing of an airplane. It's solid black, can't tell if it's shiny or flat black in texture and the wings are filled in like bat wings but the plane from the side looks like a B-52 or other WW II plane. I flip thru a few more pages and there are more pictures of the plane from different angles and when I see the top view I see the bat shaped wings -- not straight out like a B-52 but it's not wide like a Stealth Bomber either. It sort of looks like a Corvette or sports car. The third picture is of it up in the sky with a flock of birds sillouetted so that they look like they're black like the plane. The plane gives the impression of an eagle and old cars with fins.

Also, I've dreamed of fog twice before. Once I was in a "car" lost in fog with JFK, JR and a blond woman and I was in the backseat sitting on their luggage and he asked if I could drive -- we were "sideswiped" by a big black bull and passed men standing over a down red bull I thought was a cow having a calf along the road. This was before I had dreamed very often about stuff on the news and I was amazed that I could do it! In another dream with fog I drove off the edge of the USA into the Pacific Ocean and there were cars from Japan or somewhere west jumping off the ships and then jumping up on the shore in Long Beach like seals do. The dream below I also dreamed of a bull on two legs with no fur standing next to a matador on one side of the centerfold in the National Geographic and on the other side a planet viewed from outer space. Note the bull in both dreams -- I hope this is not just to make the stock market go up....

Date: 2/3/2003

From: zedek@xxx


When I saw the images of the shuttle breaking up I remembered my dream on 1/30/03.

I was in a city, felt like Dallas Tx, with my wife between two large business buildings when I saw two huge pieces coming straight for us. I thought they were meteors that had finally gotten through. They were on fire and trailed by that white smoke we saw following the shuttle on Saturday. I pushed my wife to my right and thought that I would get hit no matter what and didn't care, I know what happens after I leave this body. Then I jumped to my right and I woke up.

People are waking up and feeling the future before it happens...


Subj: again, look

Date: 2/2/2003 5:15:43 AM Pacific Standard Time




by Barry Chamish

So the Space Shuttle on its 113th mission, carrying Israel's first astronaut, explodes on the Sabbath over Palestine, Texas. Too unbelievable to be accidental, right? Well, maybe it isn't. We will return.

I had prepared my usual report from Israel and it was chock full of powerful eye-witness evidence. It was that sort of week. Now who will give a hoot about last week's news? So let's summarize what I won't report in depth and get it over with.

* We were going to start by asking why, if two/thirds of Israel's Jewish voters chose parties from the Right, is it that Sharon is forming a coalition with the Left, guaranteeing that Peres will be back in the cabinet? And our conclusion was, obviously, that the voters wasted their time voting.

* Then we were going to present eye-witnesses that the Green Leaf Party, which all polls showed winning 2-4 seats, lost because of mass ballot destruction. And something similar took place to Herut, before the vote counting began.

* Like mother, like daughter. Dahlia Pelosoff Rabin is sick with cancer and not telling anyone. A close friend of hers contacted me with the information.

* My last article included an interview with an associate of Rabin's personal bodyguard, who was called away for an overseas assignment a week before the assassination. I was told, "You got that story right. What you missed is he wasn't the only one called away on the night of the rally. Practically the whole Shabak protection unit was called to a gathering in Mishmar Hashiva that evening when we should have been on duty."

Back to NASA, once again an acronym for Need Another Seven Astronauts. Obviously, it's too early to make a claim for sabotage, but there are some signs to look for and one powerful piece of evidence unknown outside Israel. The easy way out is to observe that just when an Israeli is on board, the shuttle disintegrates. Two of the 113 shuttle flights ended in disaster, so Ilan Ramon, we calculate after the fact, had a 1 in 56.5 chance of not returning or a 1 in 112 chance before boarding. These are high but not unlikely odds. That there were Jewish astronauts on both shuttle disasters, (a distant relative of mine, Judy Resnick died in the 1986 conflagration), is entirely explainable by coincidence.

So let's increase the chances of improbability by noting that Ramon was in the Air Force squadron which bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1982, and he was on the craft on the eve of an American invasion of Iraq. There are several thousand Israeli Air Force pilots who weren't on the Iraqi mission, so Ramon's choice as the country's astronaut may not have been entirely coincidental. The Columbia explosion has the grand potential of rallying Americans against Iraq either way. Sabotage would be fine for that purpose but the images of rejoicing in Baghdad are useful as well.   THEN, that the first explosion reported was over Palestine, Texas gets a bit spooky already. Which brings us to a peculiar NASA reaction. The space agency initially insisted that no explosion was heard from the Shuttle by anyone . What people thought was an explosion was actually debris hitting the ground.

A few hours of TV watching proved that to be untrue. All kinds of witnesses saw the vapor trail and heard the explosion. They included a Texas senator and ordinary people like Randy Hendricks and Kim Dornak-Anderson, both interviewed on Fox News. Yet NASA continued to insist the Shuttle broke up, not exploded. The final proof of this false contention came from the Shreveport, Louisiana weather station, which taped the explosion on its radar screen.

So why was NASA denying that there was an explosion? The only answer anyone should come up with is that an explosion means possible sabotage. There is another reason not to dismiss that option; the reaction of the astronauts themselves. The last radio transmission proves that the crew didn't suspect anything was wrong. Then came the end of transmission, suddenly. There was not a moment of fire or smoke within the cabin. No one saw a wing in jeopardy. No one felt a sudden jolt. And those are the telltale human signs of an immediate and highly traumatic blast. I'm not an aeronautical engineer and I'm sure there are lots of reasons why the Columbia could have exploded. However, I know that no engines were ignited because the ship was in a gliding mode. So, with no motors running and no fuel being sparked, what precisely exploded the whole ship in one gigantic blast?

Which leads me to one concrete piece of evidence that should be very  closely examined. The Israeli TV Channel Two, had a reporter and crew inside the NASA Control Center. Ilan Ramon's landing was being carried live from a number of sites and Channel Two's reporter was in the right place to hear the REAL last transmissions from Columbia. And they are not even close to what the rest of the world is being told.

According to the reporter, one NASA message to the crew was most significant. A few moments before the end, NASA broadcast the following message. Now there is some Hebrew translation involved, so there are going to be some differences in the actual message; But the Channel Two reporter heard, "Rick, you're going to be surprised. We're starting the D-Orbit burn now."

The reporter wisely asked why the commander of the mission was going to be surprised and concluded that the message could lead in all kinds of suspicious directions. It was the only blatant talk of alternative suspicion that I heard all night. I waited for hours through five TV networks and not once did I hear this conversation. All I heard was a warning about tire pressure, an acknowledgement, then nothing. But something very odd preceded the final words NASA agreed to release. And it IS a reason not to dismiss sabotage. And that may go a ways to explaining why the Homeland Security division of FEMA was placed in charge of collecting debris, backed by a beaut of a scare campaign for what will become of all who hold on to Shuttle souvenirs. Now for me, here's the clincher. NASA stressed that it had no idea what caused the tragedy and even noted that they may never know. However, they have totally discarded terrorism as a cause of the "accident." So, if NASA doesn't know what caused the disaster and may never know, how exactly do they know with such concrete certainty that it wasn't sabotage?


My new book Save Israel, is available by writing this author at




It begins again. We knew 2003 was going to be a rough year. The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia was tragic and came as a surprise to many of us, but some aeronautical officials were not surprised, particularly the one who wrote me shortly after the accident. Perhaps NASA will take several steps back and take a hard look at their operations. Hopefully gross negligence was not the cause.

For the past three years, I've discussed "accidents" that are not accidents. We have heard that remark time and time again. As of today, it doesn't appear that terrorism played any part in this tragedy and the fact that an Israeli astronaut was on board may not have been significant to the tumultuous end of this mission.

Another hole has been torn into our hearts and the end-time tapestry, causing the rest of the fabric to weaken. Life will go on. It always does. Yet, this catastrophic loss will alter our future.

I firmly believe that these things happen for a reason, a reason that perhaps we will never fully understand. We can understand and hopefully grasp that there are 11 months left in what could prove to be a very rough year. Certainly without prayer, many more tragedies will occur.

Ironically, earlier this week, NASA marked the anniversaries of the Challenger and Apollo tragedies. I believe that the Challenger explosion in 1986 was a pivotal milestone, signifying a beginning of the chastisements for the United States.

Then, as now, God got our attention. Did today's news affect you in the same way as the Challenger story? Are we a little more jaded or perhaps numbed since September 11th?

Many more events are in our future and the fallout from those events is directly proportional to prayer. How much are we willing to suffer before we turn back to God?

Hopefully today's sad loss knocked each one of us off center enough to see what we could be in store for, to see that many more people will die.

There are more indications that the sand in the hourglass is just about to run out.

The end of Columbia's flight over Texas could be a specific sign for President Bush, one that should be given careful consideration. There is no such thing as a coincidence.

We are on the verge of war and America's Heavenly protection is now very thin, if it exists at all. Only a fool would blame God for removing His hand of Divine Guardianship from our country. Our record in the past 30 to 40 years speaks for itself. God didn't cause September 11th or the loss of Columbia, but He did allow it to jolt us awake before it is too late.

I think today was a severe wake-up call before an even larger event. NASA has announced that there is a screwball comet on the horizon, exhibiting strange behavior. The comet is called NEAT. Scientists feel the comet will be clearly visibly in the evening sky and could be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight.

Another sign? I think so. God is drawing our attention to the skies as a twofold reminder: to be aware of future monumental events, and for us to look up to Heaven, "from whence cometh our help," if we are smart enough to ask for it.

There is also the comet Kelly, a real fireball that reminds us of the great Ball of Redemption. Time isn't what we think it is. We do not have long to ponder about our future or what will be. Heaven has always told us. We know time is short. We know it is going to be a lot rougher. Brace yourselves.

With the latest appearance of the antichrist's promoter on the radio this past week, it seems there has been a paradigm shift. If you didn't experience it yet, don't worry. You will.

As we mourn the loss of the seven crewmembers and remember their families suffering, please pray for their souls. Their deaths will not have been in vain if we honor their deaths by changing our lives and getting back to God.

We ran Columbia in the Bible Code and here are the results.

May the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.

May God also have mercy on those of us who will be next.

By Kathleen Keating

© 2003 Kathleen Keating. All rights reserved

Date: 2/2/2003 12:11:42 AM Pacific Standard Time


Dear All

This is a general mailer to my e-mail and other friends. I would like to share this message received today, 2 February 2003, triggered by the Columbia space shuttle tragedy on 1 February 2003. For those of you to whom I have not spoken to for a while, please forgive me, for I have been somewhat out of e-mail circulation for various reasons.

It was sent to the GlobalPsychics website, on which the periodic Gaia insights are posted. Their URL is

Feel free to share, ignore or delete if you wish. But whatever you do, please do not shoot the messenger!

Much love

Alta from South Africa


Dear Ones

Humanity, as the dominant species on this planet is known, in its present civilisation and stage of evolution within it, will not be permitted to leave this Earth to inhabit others. They would first, as a collective, have to achieve the stage of enlightenment and vibration at which the inhabitants of other worlds function. They need to rehabilitate their own World and restore it to the Heaven that it is meant to be on Earth before they may set foot again on others, so that the same fate may not befall those Worlds. It has been done before by incarnate Beings and shall not be done again. This Age may also be the last stand or existence of Humanity in its current form, depending on the choices that are made, for the gift of Free Will and path to higher consciousness still remains with them.

Whatever choices are made and whatever happens in the time to come, in this your year of 2003, let it be known that the Creator Source and the Council who oversee this sector of the Universe, will NOT, through Gaia and Her resources, allow Her - this Earth - including Her Keepers, those humans of all races and creeds who are of Good Heart, and the myriad other species who are part of Her, to be destroyed. The Great Balancing and Purification will continue in order that the objective of Heaven on Earth may be reached. The Great Experiment shall not fail.

Therefore be at rest my Dear Ones who hold the Good Heart, for as the Christian Book says, it is the meek who will inherit this Earth. Hold your Hearts, strive for others to find their Hearts, pay attention and observe the Great Play. Let destiny unfold and allow the cycle to reach its completion. If you wish to pray, pray that the Good and One Heart may prevail, for only through that will the Peace that you seek come.

In deepest Love

Our Lady Gaia

2 February 2003

From: Jen P

city=Nogales, AZ


Thursday, January 30, I found a vacancy annoucement for the position as a educator astronaught for the space program. I was very excited and planned to apply for the position on the following Monday. Friday night I went to sleep and had a dream where I was in a room with several other people who were engaged in a mission in space. We were in the process of re-entering, happy about a good mission when the flight crew said something had gone wrong. Everything went black and I heard screams. I awoke terrified and breathing hard. The next day I went to work, not having watched the news that day. (I rarely do anyway) and I mentioned to a coworker that I had found a great position in the space program. He said that there would be a few more positions opening and I asked why. That is when I learned that the space shuttle Columbia had exploded. I immediatly ran into our office and looked up the news to learn it was true. I still plan to pursue the position, but I still wonder if I was getting a warning of the future and if what I saw has yet to come. I submit this account because the timing of the dream and the event were too close to each other.

Date: 2/2/2003 9:58:53 AM Pacific Standard Time

From: MK

To: Dee777

Hi Dee:

You haven't heard from me in a while but thought I'd run a few observations by you today. Spent Friday night with friend Terry as we planned on attending a breakfast early Saturday morn. When she mentioned it was already Feb. 1, I responded by noting that it was the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Brigid and how she is often depicted as a shepardess and is associated with the birthing of lambs. Well, this AM I decided to do a little web searching for further info on Brigid and came across a couple of little, eerie coincidences. First, check out this page, and see whose picture is immediately to the right of St. Brigid on the page:


Well I thought that was curious enough, but I went to the next result in my web search and came across this article:


In light of the shuttle's breakup over "Palestine, TX", I marveled at this article's allusions to Jerusalem and the apocalypse and also the reference to Isaiah in light of G. W.'s comments yesterday which also included a reference to Isaiah. This is all too strange.


Marion K


NOTE FROM DEE:  Amazingly enough, after looking at St. Columba, I noted that he was called "The Dove of the Church".

The coincidence is to the dream I had of the posts in Texas and Louisiana.  The destruction in Texas with the waves coming up to the shore can represent waves of emotion - and note that in Louisiana, I saw the Dove of Peace coming down to land amonst the people. Amazing coincidence here.

The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped

It's costly, outmoded, impractical and, as we've learned again, deadly


Sunday, Feb. 02, 2003

A spacecraft is a metaphor of national inspiration: majestic, technologically advanced, produced at dear cost and entrusted with precious cargo, rising above the constraints of the earth. The spacecraft carries our secret hope that there is something better out there—a world where we may someday go and leave the sorrows of the past behind. The spacecraft rises toward the heavens exactly as, in our finest moments as a nation, our hearts have risen toward justice and principle. And when, for no clear reason, the vessel crumbles, as it did in 1986 with Challenger and last week with Columbia, we falsely think the promise of America goes with it.

Unfortunately, the core problem that lay at the heart of the Challenger tragedy applies to the Columbia tragedy as well. That core problem is the space shuttle itself. For 20 years, the American space program has been wedded to a space-shuttle system that is too expensive, too risky, too big for most of the ways it is used, with budgets that suck up funds that could be invested in a modern system that would make space flight cheaper and safer. The space shuttle is impressive in technical terms, but in financial terms and safety terms no project has done more harm to space exploration. With hundreds of launches to date, the American and Russian manned space programs have suffered just three fatal losses in flight—and two were space-shuttle calamities. This simply must be the end of the program.

Will the much more expensive effort to build a manned International Space Station end too? In cost and justification, it's as dubious as the shuttle. The two programs are each other's mirror images. The space station was conceived mainly to give the shuttle a destination, and the shuttle has been kept flying mainly to keep the space station serviced. Three crew members—Expedition Six, in NASA argot—remain aloft on the space station. Probably a Russian rocket will need to go up to bring them home. The wisdom of replacing them seems dubious at best. This second shuttle loss means NASA must be completely restructured—if not abolished and replaced with a new agency with a new mission.

Why did NASA stick with the space shuttle so long? Though the space shuttle is viewed as futuristic, its design is three decades old. The shuttle's main engines, first tested in the late 1970s, use hundreds more moving parts than do new rocket-motor designs. The fragile heat-dissipating tiles were designed before breakthroughs in materials science. Until recently, the flight-deck computers on the space shuttle used old 8086 chips from the early 1980s, the sort of pre-Pentium electronics no self-respecting teenager would dream of using for a video game.

Most important, the space shuttle was designed under the highly unrealistic assumption that the fleet would fly to space once a week and that each shuttle would need to be big enough to carry 50,000 lbs. of payload. In actual use, the shuttle fleet has averaged five flights a year; this year flights were to be cut back to four. The maximum payload is almost never carried. Yet to accommodate the highly unrealistic initial goals, engineers made the shuttle huge and expensive. The Soviet space program also built a shuttle, called Buran, with almost exactly the same dimensions and capacities as its American counterpart. Buran flew to orbit once and was canceled, as it was ridiculously expensive and impractical.

Capitalism, of course, is supposed to weed out such inefficiencies. But in the American system, the shuttle's expense made the program politically attractive. Originally projected to cost $5 million per flight in today's dollars, each shuttle launch instead runs to around $500 million. Aerospace contractors love the fact that the shuttle launches cost so much.

In two decades of use, shuttles have experienced an array of problems—engine malfunctions, damage to the heat-shielding tiles—that have nearly produced other disasters. Seeing this, some analysts proposed that the shuttle be phased out, that cargo launches be carried aboard by far cheaper, unmanned, throwaway rockets and that NASA build a small "space plane" solely for people, to be used on those occasions when men and women are truly needed in space.

Throwaway rockets can fail too. Last month a French-built Ariane exploded on lift-off. No one cared, except the insurance companies that covered the payload, because there was no crew aboard. NASA's insistence on sending a crew on every shuttle flight means risking precious human life for mindless tasks that automated devices can easily carry out. Did Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon really have to be there to push a couple of buttons on the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment, the payload package he died to accompany to space?

Switching to unmanned rockets for payload launching and a small space plane for those rare times humans are really needed would cut costs, which is why aerospace contractors have lobbied against such reform. Boeing and Lockheed Martin split roughly half the shuttle business through an Orwellian-named consortium called the United Space Alliance. It's a source of significant profit for both companies; United Space Alliance employs 6,400 contractor personnel for shuttle launches alone. Many other aerospace contractors also benefit from the space-shuttle program.

Any new space system that reduced costs would be, to the contractors, killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Just a few weeks ago, NASA canceled a program called the Space Launch Initiative, whose goal was to design a much cheaper and more reliable replacement for the shuttle. Along with the cancellation, NASA announced that the shuttle fleet would remain in operation until 2020, meaning that Columbia was supposed to continue flying into outer space even when its airframe was more than 40 years old! True, B-52s have flown as long. But they don't endure three times the force of gravity on takeoff and 2000*none on re-entry.

A rational person might have laughed out loud at the thought that although school buses are replaced every decade, a spaceship was expected to remain in service for 40 years. Yet the "primes," as NASA's big contractors are known, were overjoyed when the Space Launch Initiative was canceled because it promised them lavish shuttle payments indefinitely. Of course, the contractors also worked hard to make the shuttle safe. But keeping prices up was a higher priority than having a sensible launch system.

Will NASA whitewash problems as it did after Challenger? The haunting fact of Challenger was that engineers who knew about the booster-joint problem begged NASA not to launch that day and were ignored. Later the Rogers Commission, ordered to get to the bottom of things, essentially recommended that nothing change. No NASA manager was fired; no safety systems were added to the solid rocket boosters whose explosion destroyed Challenger; no escape-capsule system was added to get astronauts out in a calamity, which might have helped Columbia. In return for failure, the shuttle program got a big budget increase. Post-Challenger "reforms" were left up to the very old-boy network that had created the problem in the first place and that benefited from continuing high costs.

Concerned foremost with budget politics, Congress too did its best to whitewash. Large manned-space-flight centers that depend on the shuttle are in Texas, Ohio, Florida and Alabama. Congressional delegations from these states fought frantically against a shuttle replacement. The result was years of generous funding for constituents—and now another tragedy.

The tough questions that have gone unasked about the space shuttle have also gone unasked about the space station, which generates billions in budget allocations for California, Texas, Ohio, Florida and other states. Started in 1984 and originally slated to cost $14 billion in today's dollars, the space station has already cost at least $35 billion—not counting billions more for launch costs—and won't be finished until 2008. The bottled water alone that crews use aboard the space station costs taxpayers almost half a million dollars a day. (No, that is not a misprint.) There are no scientific experiments aboard the space station that could not be done far more cheaply on unmanned probes. The only space-station research that does require crew is "life science," or studying the human body's response to space. Space life science is useful but means astronauts are on the station mainly to take one another's pulse, a pretty marginal goal for such an astronomical price.

What is next for America in space? An outsider commission is needed to investigate the Columbia accident—and must report to the President, not Congress, since Congress has shown itself unable to think about anything but pork barrel when it comes to space programs.

For 20 years, the cart has been before the horse in U.S. space policy. NASA has been attempting complex missions involving many astronauts without first developing an affordable and dependable means to orbit. The emphasis now must be on designing an all-new system that is lower priced and reliable. And if human space flight stops for a decade while that happens, so be it. Once there is a cheaper and safer way to get people and cargo into orbit, talk of grand goals might become reality. New, less-expensive throwaway rockets would allow NASA to launch more space probes—the one part of the program that is constantly cost-effective. An affordable means to orbit might make possible a return to the moon for establishment of a research base and make possible the long-dreamed-of day when men and women set foot on Mars. But no grand goal is possible while NASA relies on the super-costly, dangerous shuttle.

In 1986 the last words transmitted from Challenger were in the valiant vow: "We are go at throttle up!" This meant the crew was about to apply maximum thrust, which turned out to be a fatal act. In the coming days, we will learn what the last words from Columbia were. Perhaps they too will reflect the valor and optimism shown by astronauts of all nations. It is time NASA and the congressional committees that supervise the agency demonstrated a tiny percentage of the bravery shown by the men and women who fly to space—by canceling the money-driven shuttle program and replacing it with something that makes sense.

Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor of the New Republic and a visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution. Five years before Challenger, he wrote in the Washington Monthly that the shuttles' solid rocket boosters were not safe.,9171,1101030210-418518,00.html

Date: 2/2/2003 7:49:08 AM Pacific Standard Time

From: ofo@xxx


------- Forwarded message follows -------

Date sent: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 06:32:14 -0800 (PST)

From: Michael Senton

Subject: Re: Shuttle Nightmares

From what I have read, the parts that came loose during launch and struck the left wing most likely damaged the heat protection tiles and possibly the control surfaces. While these wings and flaps are not used during launch, they are critical during landing since the shuttle lands without power. It is just a big glider. The 5 on board computers control all the wing surfaces enabling it to land. If the wing's tiles were scrapped off or the flap controls damaged, then the computers cannot control the craft and the rapid build up of heat leaks into the cabin. Fortunately, the end of the astronauts came very quick.

The real question is why did those initial parts come loose during launch? Sabotage (i.e. loosening of fasteners). Small bomb? I just hope that it was all an accident.


ofo@xxx wrote:

What a sad day for the Brotherhood of Humanity. 2/1/2003

Palestine, Texas, USA

After this event, my internet email not working for 3 hours. Some phone calls could not be placed.....

Some believe that an instrument was hidden inside to explode and others saw a plane nearby to blow it up, if the instrument was not set ahead of time to explode at the moment. 21 Texans went to the hospital. Some houses on fire.

Explosion heard in Dallas and all over East Texas.

Too much evil......

Let Humanities love for each other over power the dark side.

From: SHall@xxx

Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 06:22:53 EST

Subject: Shuttle Explosion

Dear Friends of the One Heart,

Even though I had been shown a couple months ago that this tragedy would occur, I am as stunned and saddened as you are.

I mention this for one reason alone...understanding.

Precise, Technicolor prophetic visions of world interest have been given to me on a regular basis during the last several years. I usually do not mention the prophetic visions because prayer cannot neutralize or stop them from occurring like clockwork. Why?

There are many events collectively and individually that occur due to a mental thought form that has been created and must be brought into visible form. The happenings must manifest to bring the necessary order into the souls involved in the event.

What happened yesterday to the shuttle Columbia happened to each and every one of us.

World, outside events of this nature, is an area I have never wished to enter. My gut feeling is that I have been given this insight actually for usefulness to help us at a later date for more personal purposes. Whatever, there is no satisfaction in crossing off another tragedy that came true. We are living in a time of constant change. More visions will come true.

In the 1980s, the Circle of Light spiritual awareness organization that I founded had a quarterly newsletter. I was the conduit for The Call messages from the Central Sun, the Council of the Sun, the Golden One urging us to prepare for the present time period and future. I wonder how many souls took to heart the messages that were offered in love.

It is becoming more and more obvious that each one of us is a part of the Whole and we are responsible for our own God Realization. We can never have peace on earth until we are peaceful/balanced within our own consciousness. We no longer have the luxury to 'play' at soul awareness/progression.

I love you very much

In Cosmic Harmony


Subj: Fw: Columbia Disaster and Illuminati numerical symbolism

Date: Tue Feb 4, 2003 4:39 pm

From: Cyberspaceorbit website

Columbia Disaster--Major Global Ceremony! February 1, 2003

On 02-01-03, the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed as it completed its mission and returned to Cape Canaveral. There is such a huge  amount of symbolic, ritual evidence that I have listed it below for you to assimilate. Keep Illuminati numerical symbolism in mind as you read the following:

This was the 113th space shuttle flight.

Columbia has been flying for 22 years (twinning).

The shuttle took off on 01-16-2003, which equals a number 13.

Ft. Hood, Texas, is sending a recovery team, calling it a 24/7 operation, which equals a number 13.

CNN used a local station "13" in Florida to cover Cape Canaveral.

The runway to which it was heading is Runway #33, which is 3 miles long.

02-01-03 leaves 333 days in this year.

The event took place on the exact anniversary week of the Challenger accident in 1986.

The event took place on the date of the Chinese New Year.

The event took place on the date of a New Moon.

Challenger exploded while taking off; Columbia exploded while landing--a completion cycle.

Columbia exploded over Palestine, Texas, with an Israeli astronaut on board.

The Israeli astronaut fought in the Yom Kippur War and was on the mission in 1981 to destroy the Iraqi nuclear facility.

The name "Columbia" is derived from "Columbus" which comes from the word "Calumba." This is the name of an Illuminati cult of the White Dove--a UN/Reptilian image, i.e., white, winged Reptilian descendents.

Both the states of Florida and Texas are involved; both are politically connected to the Bush clan.

Florida is the Sunshine State. Texas is the Lone Star State. The sun is our star. This is symbolic of Texas and Florida being twin stars, a reference to a binary star system.

The space shuttle was launched on the 16th (7) for a 16-day mission (7) with (7) astronauts aboard. There are (3) 7s. There are 7 Reptilian species; all worship a 3-horned god.

On board was an African-American, an Asian-American, a Jew, and two descendents of Committee of 300 families--Blair/Clark and Brown.

The astronaut McCool is a name that shows double twinning symbology--"cc" and "oo."

An Indian and Israeli were both on board; both from nations with major issues against Muslims.

Witnesses reported seeing "spirals in the sky" with a rumbling hum; evidence of a particle beam accelerator weapon?

A 5.5 magnitude quake occurred approximately one hour after the event in Chiapas, Mexico, directly south of the explosion.

Shuttle a Satanic sacrifice?

My 2-1-03 guest on my radio program,"The Larry Jamison Show",Zeph Daniel, a MK-ULTRA survivor, sees the Columbia disaster as another page in the "Global Truman Show" ...probably even a satanic sacrifice.Think about it..a Israeli is killed pretty much over Palestine, Texas...a bright flash of light was recorded prior to break-up by a amateur photographer and then there is that pesky red streak captured on the radar map. Just maybe that was the heat signature of the missle that hit the Columbia. The name Columbia is also Illuminati big time. Columbus did not "discover America," ..he had a map from bloodline sources, and then there is the Columbine school shooting. Michael Moore´s film "Bowling for Columbine" even captured what looks like Monarch butterflies in the linoleum tile...(a MK-ULTRA program is named Monarch. Nuf said

Subj: [SaSekhemSahu] an omen for armageddon, parts one and two

Date: 2/7/2003

From: abooks@xxx


An Omen for Armageddon

Part One - Signs and portents in the sky

I am a child of the space age, starry eyed and wonder fuelled on all the science fiction archetypes a 1950s childhood could produce. To me, it was always obvious that we were living in mythological times.

Last Saturday morning, February 1st, 2003, at just after 9 AM eastern time, our space age aspirations created a mythic event with cosmic ramifications, visible in the skies as a comet-like arrow of fire exploding and dissolving into a rain of death. Our collective unconscious, numbed by the impending rush to what could be an apocalyptic conflict in the Middle East, has yet to absorb the implications of what we all witnessed via television. The mythic symbol is so powerful we feel an innate taboo against talking about it directly. And so it seeps deeper and deeper into the unconsciousness of us all.

By Monday, some folks out there, from very different perspectives, were beginning to suspect that there was indeed a mythic level to the space shuttle disaster:

"It is time for the American people to begin meditating about what USA policies in the Middle East are doing to the Palestinian people and about what George Bush is about to do to Iraqi civilians. There is a God!

Many call him Dios and others call him Allah. Dios, Allah and God is the one supreme universal being, Creator of the entire universe. He does from time to time intervene in our affairs. He works in mysterious ways but always He gives signs.

"The brilliant Jewish (sic) "explorer of inner space" Carl Jung wrote of synchronicities in the lives of human beings and of the "collective unconscious". Synchronicities, according to Jung, are those pesky little "meaningful coincidences" that often occur during times of crisis. Perhaps the "meaningful coincidence" involving the Jewish astronaut and Palestine, Texas is a way of God talking to us." (Ernesto Cienfuegos - La Voz de Aztlan, 2/3/03)

And later that day, John Hogue, one of the world's foremost Nostradamus scholars, chimed in with this:

"It is my belief that last Saturday's space shuttle disaster (1 February.) is the first illumination of a succession of events coming in the next few months concerning Century 2 Quatrain 62."

"Nestled in the grass in a field in eastern Texas, lies a mission patch from the fallen space shuttle Columbia. It somehow had miraculously survived its fiery fall out of the morning sky. The names of the seven heroic astronauts who died make an outline of their space shuttle. A glowing trail like a comet's tale streaks through the shuttle's outline ending in a many-pointed star. It is a star very similar to that filmed by a hundred amateur video cameras across Texas as it fell to earth like a flaming comet. Mabus will soon die, then will come, A horrible undoing of people and animals... when the comet will pass.

"Has the comet just passed?

"Is this the chilling portent of things to come for America if they should hurry off to war?

"Destiny holds it breath as America primes its war machine."
(John Hogue, email from Hogue Prophecy Bulletin, 2/3/03)

Interesting isn't it, that such different perspectives and ways of organizing the synchronistic component of the archetypal event could arrive at basically the same conclusion? It is a bad omen, an ill augury, for America and its on-rushing charge to war.

Last fall, just after the equinox, I wrote an article entitled "After Judgment Day." I planned to post it on the follow up page to the Djed Raising event, but kept hesitating. Now, I think I know why…

Here's the relevant section:

In the spring of 1999, soon after I returned from a research trip in France, I followed and matched events in the Balkans to Nostradamus' quatrains and thereby had a revelation. The quatrains were not designed to predict events, but to point to places and events where the larger forces that drive history took one path rather than another. Which path was which could be determined by studying the events in terms of the prophetic pattern of possible futures laid out by Nostradamus.

Nostradamus then was giving us a blueprint to the convergence points of possible histories. By being aware of which events described in the quatrains actually occurred, it should be possible to determine which stream of the future we were heading down. The Balkan conflict was a key switch point, and as the events played out, we could see the range of possible future actions taking shape around us. Nostradamus' "fantasy "of a possible world conflict erupting from the Middle East was rapidly becoming more and more a reality.

It was also not lost on me that the only two numerical dates given by Nostradamus, 1792 and 1999, were significant in the pattern we had uncovered. The first date, 1792, is very close, just slightly more than 1/36th of a degree, to the point where the galactic meridian and the zenith/nadir of the sky at the latitude of Cairo began to align. This would be easily discernable with a good armillary sphere and so within the reach of Nostradamus or any other astronomer. The second, 1999, no matter how we count it, falls within the critical period described by Fulcanelli as the season of the catastrophe. If we consider that the MABUS archetype, Nostradamus' Third Anti-Christ, is a contraction of the names of the three principle players, OsaMA, SaddAM and BUSh, then the events of 9/11/2001 and afterward indicate that the future is collapsing into the very dire pattern glimpsed by Nostradamus.

Adding to this is the fact of America's emergence as a new imperial power on a level that goes far beyond anything ever seen before. By considering a pre-emptive strike on a sovereign nation because it might, at some future point threaten the country's security, America reveals itself as just another power hungry Empire as morally bankrupt as it is politically corrupted. And this action of course appears destined to bring on the global conflict with Islam foreseen by Nostradamus. Some of the worst-case scenarios for our unilateral action against Iraq read much like the worst future described by Nostradamus' quatrains. Is this accident, synchronicity, or what?

Nostradamus however does give us a few clues, signposts to watch out for as the momentum for war builds. In Century II, Quatrain 62, the quatrain where Nostradamus dubs the Third Anti-Christ Mabus, we are given a sequence. First a "comet" then the death of Mabus triggers a grisly vengeance. This suggests Century VII, Quatrain 77, where the death of the Third Anti-Christ either ends or provokes a 27 year long Armageddon.

MABUS, our unholy trinity of protagonists, appears to be intrinsically linked. The death of any one of them, or at least the sudden death of either Bush or Saddam, might just provoke a vengeful cataclysmic confrontation that would end in the very worst of all Nostradamus' possible futures. The "comet" could be the leading edge of the galactic superwave, or it could be a missile attack on Bagdad or Jerusalem, or perhaps, even Washington…

But this is not the only quatrain about a "comet." One of the most interesting such quatrains, and one that perhaps dates the comet referred to in II/62, is Century II, Quatrain 46 (46-62 inclusive = 17). It speaks directly of renewing the "great motor" of the centuries, a reference to the equinox and the galactic alignment, and says that after a cycle of great misery, an even greater one approaches. Blood, iron and milky-looking toxic materials will rain down as a fire is seen streaking across the sky with a blazing trail of sparks. This clearly suggests a rocket, and even the number of the quatrain, 46, points to 1946, the year America appropriated Von Braun and the German V-2 program, the precursor of both the ICBM and the Atlas V.

Therefore, Nostradamus is presenting a schema or template for the immediate future. A sign or portent in the sky will signal the beginning of the Final Crusade, our ill-conceived aggressive war on Iraq and its consequences. Perhaps it will be the close approach of a comet, or even more likely it will be a missile strike launched by one side or the other that leads to the death of Mabus and the resulting terrible consequences. Quatrain II/46 suggests that it will happen soon, perhaps, given the necessities of war in the region, in January or February…

If, as John Hogue speculates, the space shuttle disaster was the "comet," which seems likely given II/46, then sometimes in the next hundred days or so (02/01/03 to 05/10/030), we can expect that one of the three Mabuses will die, and that the resulting vengeance will touch off the catastrophe of the Final Crusade, Armageddon itself. A chilling thought to be sure…

However, the symbolic harbinger of that approaching disaster is in its way a message. The space shuttle disaster happened for reasons that we may never fully understand, but the event itself crystallized a pattern of synchronistic occurrences, facts, numbers, connections and connotations, that gave it a mythic proportion in and of itself. Nostradamus used, in his cryptic way, this mythic dimension to mark an unmistakable turning point in human existence. As we live through it, we could not help but be aware of the meaning of the "comet." This, Nostradamus considered, could only help us understand, and perhaps avoid, the cataclysm so quickly approaching on its heels.

The hidden 17 connecting the two quatrains in Century II demonstrates that Nostradamus had an eerie degree of insight, or a powerful sense of synchronicity. By following this strange numerical clue, and others like it, we can unravel the mythic meanings behind the space shuttle Columbia's explosive end between Palestine and Tyler, Texas. And by doing so we find echoes and symbolic reflections of all the forces at work in the approaching Armageddon.

Part Two – The unique creation, strange life and sudden death of the goddess Columbia

Almost from the moment the New World was discovered, it was seen in mythological terms as an exotic goddess, an Indian Queen dressed in feathers and furs ridding an exotic beast like an armadillo and armed with a tomahawk. She summed up the desires of the 16th and 17th century European conquerors for adventure and strangeness, and of course, freedom and eroticism unavailable at home. The wealth and power created by the conquest of this New World Goddess would first enrich the Old World and then turn it upside down, generating a series of world conflicts, beginning in the mid 18th century, that continues in the confrontations of today.

The Catholic south adapted the idea of the Goddess of the New World into the ever-expanding hagiology of the Catholic Church. The Virgin of Guadalupe allowed the archetype to become personal, a connection to the land and its ancestors, while joining a larger universalist vision inside the Church. In the largely Protestant north, things went quite differently.

The 17th century's Indian Goddess became a tamer Indian Princess, modelled on the archetypal story of Pocahontas. This version, while remaining exotic, was accessible and nubile, open to the embraces of the conqueror. As the 18th century passed, and America grew more developed and its people more educated, the Indian princess gained a touch of Greek elegance. "By the late 1790s," folk-art historian Nancy Jo Fox comments, "it was not clear whether a feathered Indian Princess had changed into a Greek goddess or whether a Greek goddess had placed feathers or plumes in her hair."

This transformation coincided with the revolution in America. As a new kind of society in the New World struggled for its life against the power of the Old World, a new archetypal goddess figure emerged in the American collective unconscious. This transformation was guided and shaped by the esoteric awareness shared by the core group of the Founding Fathers.

The occult history of the American Revolution has yet to be written, but there was indeed a preponderance of "Masons" involved on both sides of the conflict (Washington, Lafayette and Cornwallis for instance all belonged to the same regimental Masonic lodge).

These esoterically minded Founding Fathers saw "America" as a kind of magical future for the human race, when the archetypes that had in the past been mediated by King and Church would be democratically available to all citizens. This would in fact create, if successful, a kind of psychic protection against "tyranny." No king or demagogue could grab the symbolic current of a freely archetypal democracy and make it subservient to his will. Or so they thought…

The archetype of a new goddess of liberty first emerged in relation to George Washington. In 1775, Phyllis Wheatley, a slave in New England, wrote a poem praising George Washington as a true son of the goddess of Freedom. In the early years of the revolution, this Lady Liberty meshed with the Indian Princess and the Greek goddess Athena, patron of the classical models of democracy such as the city-state of Athens to become, in the poetry of Phillip Freneau, the synthomorphic goddess Columbia.

This new image of the goddess Liberty struck a responsive chord in the collective unconsciousness, both in America and in Europe. France would eventually reply with her own version of the new goddess, monumentally mounted in New York Harbour as the Statue of Liberty, with smaller versions in Manhattan and Paris. This Liberty has a torch, a stone tablet and a halo of sun spikes echoing the Apollonian Colossus of Rhodes that inspired it. It is a very classical Liberty, with few attributes specific to the New World.

But the American view of Lady Freedom, the new goddess Columbia, retained a more deliberate kind of synthetic form. The ideas that animated Columbia can be seen in her attributes, that is the objects or symbols that are displayed with her. She is most often shown with an eagle, broken chains and pottery, a cornucopia, images of George Washington, a laurel wreath, a liberty pole and cap, a liberty tree, an olive branch, a rattlesnake, a shield and a stone tablet. The statue of Columbia behind the speaker's chair in the House of Representatives is a fine example. In this one we see the Eagle, and on the other side a snake coiled around a Greek column.

By the 1850s, the archetype of Lady Freedom, the synthetic goddess Columbia, had come to represent America itself. As the designs were finalized for the new dome of the Capitol Building, the new temple of democracy, the architect, Thomas U. Walker, included a monumental statue of the goddess Columbia to cap the dome. Thomas Crawford, a classically trained American sculptor living in Italy, submitted a design for "Freedom triumphant in War and Peace" which, after modification by then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, was accepted. Crawford's original design included a Phyrgian cap worn by freed Roman slaves, and the very idea of freed slaves was hard for Davis to swallow. Crawford changed it to a Roman helmet, crested with eagle feathers, thereby retaining some of the original native flavour of the Indian Goddess.

A full size plaster model was finished just before Crawford died in 1857. The model's subsequent adventures before arriving in Washington are nothing short of miraculous, surviving shipwrecks and other disasters. Work on the casting of the statue began as the United States lurched unevenly toward civil war. Halted in 1861 as war erupted, the casting was completed by late 1862. Work on the Capitol Dome was finished enough to allow its erection on top of the dome to be symbolically completed at 12 noon on December 2nd, 1863.

A quick glance at the astrology of that moment in time explains why it was so carefully chosen and orchestrated. At that moment, a grand square is formed of the Moon, the North and South Moon nodes and the ascendant, all falling on the proper kerubic signs to form the cube of space of the galactic alignment, the cusps of Aquarius/Pisces, Leo/Virgo, Sagittarius/ Scorpio, and Gemini/Taurus, and highlighting, with the head and tail of the dragon, the Moon nodes, the dragon axis of the galaxy. Overlaid on this is a grand trine of Venus, Uranus and the ascendant.

This strange arrow shaped telelscoping of seven points into six is echoed in the odd shape of the neo-Roman headdress on the statue, and at noon on December 2nd 1862, as the head was being bolted in place facing east toward the ascendant horizon, this shape was mirrored in the stars. To the east lay the rising cusp of Aquarius/Pisces, symbol of the new age, the new aeon.

Above, at its zenith, was the Sun, conjunct with Mercury, combining power with wisdom. Behind to the west was the waning Moon, just on the horizon at the cusp of Leo/Virgo. And just in case we didn't completely understand the metaphor, the rising horizon of the new age, the ascendant, is tied in to the trine of Venus and Uranus, saying that this moment is the dawn of the goddess, Venus, of the new age, Uranus, discovered in 1782 just as the Revolution in America was won.

This synchronicity could hardly have been an accident, yet who could have planned it, and who chose the exact time, is lost in the bureaucratic mists of time. Keep it in mind though, because it is a strangely synchronous symbolic code for the moment in time when Columbia would begin to awaken… and perhaps for the moment of her sacrificial destruction.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Columbia became more of an icon than an archetype; her form graced everything from political cartoons to flatware. As late as the 1940s, Columbia was still a viable symbol of America, used on coins and in official art. In the post-war world, it was Columbia's eagle that faced down the Communist bear and won both the space race and the Cold War, while Columbia herself became ever more remote and removed from the world.

This was symbolized in 1981 when the first of the new fleet of reusable space shuttles was christened "Columbia." The goddess of Freedom, "triumphant in peace and war," became the new symbol of our military and commercial exploitation of space. The Newer World was out there, in space, just waiting for a new generation of conquistadors to discover it. Columbia, as a symbol, had come full circle.

The space shuttle Columbia performed flawlessly, flying the first five missions and alternating thereafter with the newer craft as they came on line. She was on her 28th flight when she exploded, completing as it were a moon cycle of missions, remaining a goddess to the very end.

But, a few months before her fiery end over Texas, the goddess had begun to awaken, at least on an astral level…

Over the fall equinox of 2002, Fulcanelli's mid point of the season of the catastrophe and Nostradamus' turning of the great motor of the centuries, a mystic by the name of Steve Prellwitz had an encounter with the newly awakened goddess Columbia. Mr. Prellwitz, whose work can only be found in the most obscure lacunae of the Internet, is completely sincere and apparently honest in his reporting of his experiences.

Here's his encounter with the goddess:

"Who is She?" I spoke out loud to my other self.

COLUMBIA, came the reply.

This suddenly made complete sense to me, as I remembered that the city of Washington DC was in fact constructed as an energy grid designed to give birth to the sleeping Goddess, Columbia, who was to be the new consciousness of the Earth itself.

"So that was the whole point of the Djed Ceremony?" I asked. "To awaken Columbia?" [The Djed Ceremony was the Equinox Event, see


I came to the bottom of the steps and found myself in a large circular chamber. The floor was a huge map of the stars, laid out to express the galactic center alignment now occurring. The light within the torch was now blazing like a star, and the third frequency of my perceptions was filling almost all of my mind's eye.

THE VIRGO CLUSTER, my voice within the light said. STAND OVER IT.

Even though I was not exactly clear on where that would be, the torch seemed to be pulling me to the right spot.


Again I was fed the strange words of an unknown tongue. As I spoke them the figure of a beautiful naked woman appeared on the floor next to me. She had long blonde hair, which seemed to glow of if it were really made of light.


"Columbia!" I said forcefully. As I spoke, that weird third level of my awareness ceased, faded away, and she opened her magnificent blue eyes.

The Goddess rose and stretched, Her bare breasts a sight of perfect beauty too wonderful to describe. Light glowed from Her head, Her pubic region and under Her arms, casting Her form in a soothing aura. As I stood there in awe, She smiled.

"America," She said in soft, musical voice. Then She came to me and grasped the torch. Her hands closed over my own and we shared a moment of silent communion. Inside the light, my second self seemed more real to me. I was more looking at Steve than looking AS Steve.

Columbia took the torch from me. I made no effort to resist. In the light, the other me knew that it was the right thing to do.

She held it in Her right hand, raising it above Her head. As She did this, a book appeared in her other hand. It was silver and had the year 2002 written on its cover in gold.

"Liberty and light to all," She said.

Then I heard a tortured, frantic scream from above. Adam Weishaupt fell from the darkness and landed in a confused heap next to us. He writhed on the floor, hissing and spitting, as he metamorphosed into his evil reptilian form, which resembled a velociraptor.

Columbia looked down, as the light from Her torch flowed out and then engulfed him. As She continued to smile the light increased, causing the raptor-thing to squirm even more, fighting for his life against the powers of the awakened Goddess. Then there was a startling explosion as the reptilian creature split from its human host. The soul of President Weishaupt, looking again like his normal form, was separated from the raptor, which melted into a heap of goo.

"Free at last!" he screamed with joy, and turned to Columbia, kneeling at her feet.

"Liberty and light to all," She repeated.

As the goddess noted to Steve, the fall equinox of 2002, with its galactic cube alignments, acted as the trigger to release the sleeping or imprisoned goddess. Remember, the moment of her binding to the US Capitol dome marked a lunar arrangement of the cube of space, over laid by a Venus/Uranus trine with the ascendant. The fall equinox marked a solar alignment of the cube, thus signalling a transition from passive binding to active engagement. The key feature, astrologically, of the fall equinox was the double grand trine in Air and Fire forming a near perfect hexagram. Between two points of the hexagram, Venus formed a square aspect with Neptune and Jupiter, key planets in the double trine. This reproduces the arrangement at Columbia's installation, except instead of the ascendant as the central point, signifying a focus on the future, the focus here is on Venus, the goddess herself.

The ascendant on the equinox was also important to the Columbia arrangement. The alignment of Moon nodes, head and tail of the dragon, also falls along the galactic axis, but on the fall equinox, the alignments are reversed in both orientation and alignment from the moment of Columbia's installation. We can think of this as turning a key in a lock… The astrology, even in this simplistic way, clearly shows that the moment of the archetype's activation, its release from bondage, was keyed to a reversal of the energetic pattern of its binding.

But there was a disquieting note. On the fall equinox, Pluto was conjunct the south Moon node in almost the same position the Sun/Mercury conjunction occupied in the installation chart. This signals a cautionary note; the next Venus/Pluto conjunction could be very bad for the newly emerging goddess… Such a conjunction occurred on January 23, 2003, one week after the shuttle was launched.

The moment the space shuttle Columbia reached orbit, calculated as midnight, January 17th, GMT, the astrology eerily echoed the moment of the monument's installation. A grand trine of the ascendant, Uranus and Saturn formed, overlaid by the grand square of Sun, Moon, the asteroid Lillith and the ascendant. The major shift falls in the grand trine. Uranus and Venus trine symbolized the goddess in service to the new age, "novus ordo seclorum," but Uranus and Saturn trine can be seen as a sign that the karma of that New World Order is about to come due.

And so it does. The astrology for the moment of the space shuttle Columbia's fiery end shows the signs of disaster when related to the moment of Columbia's installation. First Mars in fiery Sagittarius falls on the installation's conjunction of Sun, Mid-Heaven and Mercury, directly pointing to a disaster to the symbolic reality of Columbia. In the original grand trine, Venus and Saturn have traded places with Uranus, indicating a sacrificial quickening of karma. And most unsettling of all, Venus had almost passed the conjunction with Pluto, which occurred on the 23rd of January and was linked to Pluto only by their mutual conjunction to the Mid-Heaven. We can perhaps think of this last connection as putting a stop or an end to the transit itself; and also bringing the end of the shuttle Columbia, and perhaps, the archetype from which it was drawn.

Since the instant of the disaster also sported a conjunction of Sun, Moon and Neptune, we can see how it had such a deep and universal impact. Our conscious and unconscious minds are both engaged, and joined at that instant to the mass consciousness of the planet. The destruction of the space shuttle Columbia could not fail to have vast and long reaching consequences on the psyche of humanity. It was foreshadowed in its stars.

Air Force imagery confirms Columbia wing damaged

Posted: February 7, 2003

High-resolution images taken from a ground-based Air Force tracking camera in southwestern U.S. show serious structural damage to the inboard leading edge of Columbia's left wing, as the crippled orbiter flew overhead about 60 sec. before the vehicle broke up over Texas killing the seven astronauts on board Feb. 1.

According to sources close to the investigation, the images, under analysis at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, show a jagged edge on the left inboard wing structure near where the wing begins to intersect the fuselage. They also show the orbiter's right aft yaw thrusters firing, trying to correct the vehicle's attitude that was being adversely affected by the left wing damage. Columbia's fuselage and right wing appear normal. Unlike the damaged and jagged left wing section, the right wing appears smooth along its entire length. The imagery is consistent with telemetry.

The ragged edge on the left leading edge, indicates that either a small structural breach -- such as a crack -- occurred, allowing the 2,500F reentry heating to erode additional structure there, or that a small portion of the leading edge fell off at that location.

Either way, the damage affected the vehicle's flying qualities as well as allowed hot gases to flow into critical wing structure -- a fatal combination.

It is possible, but yet not confirmed, that the impact of foam debris from the shuttle's external tank during launch could have played a role in damage to the wing leading edge, where the deformity appears in USAF imagery.

If that is confirmed by the independent investigation team, it would mean that, contrary to initial shuttle program analysis, the tank debris event at launch played a key role in the root cause of the accident.

Another key factor is that the leading edge of the shuttle wing where the jagged shape was photographed transitions from black thermal protection tiles to a much different mechanical system made of reinforced carbon-carbon material that is bolted on, rather than glued on as the tiles are.

This means that in addition to the possible failure of black tile at the point where the wing joins the fuselage, a failure involving the attachment mechanisms for the leading edge sections could also be a factor, either related or not to the debris impact. The actual front structure of a shuttle wing is flat. To provide aerodynamic shape and heat protection, each wing is fitted with 22 U-shaped reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) leading-edge structures. The carbon material in the leading edge, as well as the orbiter nose cap, is designed to protect the shuttle from temperatures above 2,300F during reentry. Any breach of this leading-edge material would have catastrophic consequences.

The U-shaped RCC sections are attached to the wing "with a series of floating joints to reduce loading on the panels due to wing deflections," according to Boeing data on the attachment mechanism.

"The [critical heat protection] seal between each wing leading-edge panel is referred to as a 'tee' seal," according to Boeing, and are also made of a carbon material.

The tee seals allow lateral motion and thermal expansion differences between the carbon sections and sections of the orbiter wing that remain much cooler during reentry.

In addition to debris impact issues, investigators will likely examine whether any structural bending between the cooler wing structure and the more-than-2,000F leading edge sections could have played a role in the accident. There is insulation packed between the cooler wing structure and the bowl-shaped cavity formed by the carbon leading-edge sections.

The RCC leading-edge structures are bolted to the wing using Inconel fittings that attach to aluminum flanges on the front of the wing.

The initial NASA Mission Management Team (MMT) assessment of the debris impact made Jan. 18, two days after launch, noted "The strike appears to have occurred on or relatively close to the "wing glove" near the orbiter fuselage.

The term "wing glove" generally refers to the area where the RCC bolt-on material is closest to the fuselage. This is also the general area where USAF imagery shows structural damage.

The second MMT summary analyzing the debris hit was made on Jan. 20 and had no mention of the leading-edge wing glove area. That report was more focused on orbiter black tiles on the vehicle's belly. The third and final summary issued on Jan. 27 discusses the black tiles again, but also specifically says "Damage to the RCC [wing leading edge] should be limited to [its] coating only and have no mission impact." Investigators in Houston are trying to match the location of the debris impact with the jagged edge shown in the Air Force imagery.

Columbia reentry accident investigators are also trying to determine if, as in the case of the case of Challenger's accident 17 years ago, an undesirable materials characteristic noted on previous flights -- in this case the STS-112 separation of external tank insulation foam debris -- was misjudged by engineers as to its potential for harm, possibly by using analytical tools and information inadequate to truly identify and quantify the threat to the shuttle. As of late last week, NASA strongly asserted this was not the case, but intense analysis on that possibility continues.

The shuttle is now grounded indefinitely and the impact on major crew resupply and assembly flights to the International Space Station remain under intense review.

Killed in the accident were STS-107 Mission Commander USAF Col. Rick Husband; copilot Navy Cdr. William McCool; flight engineer, Kalpana Chawla; payload commander, USAF Lt. Col. Michael Anderson; mission specialist physician astronauts Navy Capt. Laurel Clark and Navy Capt. David Brown and Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon.

"We continue to recover crew remains and we are handling that process with the utmost care, the utmost respect and dignity," said Ronald Dittemore, shuttle program manager.

No matter what the investigations show, there are no apparent credible crew survival options for the failure Columbia experienced. With the ISS out of reach in a far different orbit, there were no credible rescue options if even if wing damage had been apparent before reentry -- which it was not.

If, in the midst of its 16-day flight, wing damage had been found to be dire, the only potential -- but still unlikely -- option would have been the formulation over several days by Mission Control of a profile that could have, perhaps, reduced heating on the damaged wing at the expense of the other wing for an unguided reentry, with scant hope the vehicle would remain controllable to about 40,000 ft., allowing for crew bailout over an ocean.

Reentry is a starkly unforgiving environment where three out of the four fatal manned space flight accidents over the last 35 years have occurred.

These include the Soyuz 1 reentry accident that killed cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov in 1967 and the 1971 Soyuz 11 reentry accident that killed three cosmonauts returning after the first long-duration stay on the Salyut 1 space station.

The only fatal launch accident has been Challenger in 1986, although Apollo astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were killed when fire developed in their spacecraft during a launch pad test not involving launch.

No other accident in aviation history has been seen by so many eyewitnesses than the loss of Columbia -- visible in five states.

Telemetry and photographic analysis indicate the breakup of the historic orbiter took place as she slowed from Mach 20-to-18 across California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico with the loss of structural integrity 205,000 ft. over north central Texas where most of the debris fell.

The science-driven STS-107 crew was completing 16 days of complex work in their Spacehab Research Double module and were 16 min. from landing at Kennedy when lost. Landing was scheduled for 8:16 a.m. CST.

Abnormal telemetry events in the reentry began at 7:52 a.m. CST as the vehicle was crossing the coast north of San Francisco at 43 mi. alt., about Mach 20.

The orbiter at this time was in a 43-deg. right bank completing its initial bank maneuver to the south for initial energy dissipation and ranging toward the Kennedy runway still nearly 3,000 mi. away.

That initial bank had been as steep as about 80 deg. between Hawaii and the California coast, a normal flight path angle for the early part of the reentry. The abnormal events seen on orbiter telemetry in Houston indicate a slow penetration of reentry heat into the orbiter and damage on the wing, overpowering the flight control system. Key events were:

  • 7:52 a.m. CST: Three left main landing gear brakeline temperatures show an unusual rise. "This was the first occurrence of a significant thermal event in the left wheel well," Dittemore said. Engineers do not believe the left wheel well was breached, but rather that hot gasses were somehow finding a flow path within the wing to reach the wheel well.

    7:53 a.m. CST: A fourth left brakeline strut temperature measurement rose significantly -- about 30-40 deg. in 5 min.

    7:54 a.m. CST: With the orbiter over eastern California and western Nevada, the mid-fuselage mold line where the left wing meets the fuselage showed an unusual temperature rise. The 60F rise over 5 min. was not dramatic, but showed that something was heating the wing fuselage interface area at this time. Wing leading edge and belly temperatures were over 2,000F. While the outside fuselage wall was heating, the inside wall remained cool as normal.

    7:55 a.m. CST: A fifth left main gear temperature sensor showed an unusual rise.

    7:57 a.m. CST: As Columbia was passing over Arizona and New Mexico, the orbiter's upper and lower left wing temperature sensors failed, probably indicating their lines had been cut. The orbiter was also rolling back to the left into about a 75-deg. left bank angle, again to dissipate energy and for navigation and guidance toward Runway 33 at Kennedy, then about 1,800 mi. away.

    7:58 a.m. CST: Still over New Mexico, the elevons began to move to adjust orbiter roll axis trim, indicating an increase in drag on the left side of the vehicle. That could be indicative of "rough tile or missing tile but we are not sure," Dittemore said. At the same time, the elevons were reacting to increased drag on the left side of the vehicle, the left main landing gear tire pressures and wheel temperature measurements failed. This was indicative of a loss of the sensor, not the explosion or failure of the left main gear tires, Dittemore believes. The sensors were lost in a staggered fashion.

    7:59 a.m. CST: Additional elevon motion is commanded by the flight control system to counteract right side drag. The drag was trying to roll the vehicle to the left, while the flight control system was commanding the elevons to roll it back to the right.

But the rate of left roll was beginning to overpower the elevons, so the control system fired two 870-lb. thrust right yaw thrusters to help maintain the proper flight path angle. The firing lasted 1.5 sec. and, along with the tire pressure data and elevon data, would have been noted by the pilots.

At about this time, the pilots made a short transmission that was clipped and essentially unintelligible

In Mission Control, astronaut Marine Lt. Col. Charles Hobaugh, the spacecraft communicator on reentry flight director Leroy Cain's team, radioed "Columbia we see your tire pressure [telemetry[ messages and we did not copy your last transmission."

One of the pilots then radioed "Roger," but appeared to be cut off in mid transmission by static. For a moment there was additional static and sounds similar to an open microphone on Columbia but no transmissions from the crew.

All data from the orbiter then stopped and the position plot display in Mission Control froze over Texas, although an additional 30 sec. of poor data may have been captured.

Controllers in Mission Control thought they were experiencing an unusual but non-critical data drop out. But they had also taken notice of the unusual buildup of sensor telemetry in the preceding few minutes.

About 3 min. after all data flow stopped, Hobaugh in mission control began transmitting in the blind to Columbia on the UHF backup radio system. "Columbia, Houston, UHF comm. check" he repeated every 15-30 sec., but to no avail. In central Texas, thousands of people at that moment were observing the orbiter break up at Mach 18.3 and 207,000 ft.

Milt Heflin, Chief of the Flight Director's office said he looked at the frozen data plots. "I and others stared at that for a long time because the tracking ended over Texas. It just stopped. It was was then that I reflected back on what I saw [in Mission Control] with Challenger."

The loss of Challenger occurred 17 years and four days before the loss of Columbia.

"Our landscape has changed," Heflin said. "The space flight business today is going to be much different than yesterday.

"It was different after the Apollo fire, it was different after Challenger."

Columbia, the first winged reusable manned spacecraft first launched in April 1981, was lost on her 28th mission on the 113th shuttle flight.

Large piece of space shuttle Columbia found

LUFKIN, TEXAS - A 1.8-metre-long piece of the space shuttle Columbia was recently found in Texas, according to NASA.

The shuttle broke up over the state on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board. Debris was scattered over Texas and Louisiana.

Two weeks ago, a wildlife official discovered a new piece of the crew compartment in southeast Texas, police said.

The type of debris was confirmed on Wednesday by Bruce Buckingham, a spokesperson at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The space agency has not yet claimed the piece, which has moss growing over part of its hinged window.

Accident investigators concluded a suitcase-sized chunk of foam tore a hole in Columbia's left wing 82 seconds after liftoff. The gap allowed hot gases to enter the orbiter two weeks later during re-entry, causing the crash.

Written by CBC News Online staff


Prof says life seeds survived Columbia

Web Posted: 03/05/2006 12:00 AM CST

Roger Croteau
Express-News Staff Writer

Imagine this: Billions of years ago, in a solar system hundreds of light years away, a huge meteor crashed on a planet not unlike our own.

The explosion flung hundreds of rocks covered with primitive microbes out of that planet's atmosphere into space, where they drifted for millions of years — the seeds of life frozen in the rocks.

Eventually, one of those rocks was caught by the gravity of our own planet and crashed to the ground, where the warmth and water revived the microorganisms, bringing life and the start of the evolutionary process to Earth.

The space shuttle Columbia disaster three years ago has provided evidence that such a scenario could have happened, according to a Texas State University-San Marcos professor.

His findings will be published in the March edition of the scientific journal Icarus, the official publication of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

Microbiologist Robert McLean assumed his experiment aboard the shuttle was lost when Columbia broke apart upon re-entering the Earth's atmosphere Feb. 1, 2003.

But its container was found intact in a convenience store parking lot in Nacogdoches, and while the original experiment was destroyed, the leftovers held new evidence to support the theory of "panspermia," the idea that microbes can hitchhike on meteorites from one planet to another, seeding the universe with life.

"The key thing we learned through the tragedy was that we had an organism that survived re-entry and the crash to Earth," McLean said. "The results we ended up with are potentially way more exciting than what we started out trying to learn."

The original experiment was to investigate the interactions of three bacterial species in microgravity. When McLean pried open the plastic container that held his experiment, he found the three strains of bacteria had died.

However, a stowaway strain that had contaminated the experiment before launch survived.

"This organism appears to have survived an atmospheric passage, with the heat and the force of impact," McLean said. "That's only about a fifth of the speed that something on a real meteorite would have to survive, but is at least five or six times faster than what has been tested before.

"This is important for panspermia, because if something survives space travel, it eventually has to get down to the Earth and survive passage through the atmosphere and impact," he said. "This doesn't prove anything, it just contributes evidence to the plausibility of panspermia. Realistically, that is all it can do. Out of respect for the seven people who gave their lives for this research, I feel it's very important these results don't get lost."

The theory of panspermia dates to the 1800s and British physicist Lord Kelvin, but it eventually fell out of acceptance. It did not regain much credence until just the past few years.

"It has a long and checkered history," said Jay Melosh, professor of theoretical geophysics at the University of Arizona. "A lot of people you would describe as somewhat nutty are working on it. It was regarded as pretty wild in the past, but it has become more and more center-stage. It's not a wild and crazy idea anymore, but there is no proof."

Of course, there is no proof that microbes exist anywhere but on Earth. But scientists are still intrigued by the panspermia theory.

Recent experiments and meteorite discoveries have shown that meteor impacts can eject rocks and debris off planets and into space, potentially starting the process. Other experiments have shown bacteria, encased in amber for perhaps millions of years, can be revived. And other experiments have shown bacteria have survived re-entry on rockets shot as high as 200 miles up, all lending plausibility to the theory.

However, Melosh said he would "not conclude a lot," from McLean's findings.

"Obviously the bacteria was shielded by other materials, including the shuttle itself," he said. "It was a completely uncontrolled experiment. We don't know the temperatures or forces it was subjected to."

John Rummel, planetary protection officer with NASA, agreed that panspermia is gaining a lot more interest from the scientific community. He noted that many meteorites that fall to Earth, while too hot for bacteria to survive on the surface, could easily harbor live microbes deep within, where they often remain frozen while entering the atmosphere.

He would not comment on McLean's findings without reading his paper, but said the shuttle disaster "is completely different than a natural event."

Michael Mautner, a chemistry professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said McLean's finding is "interesting, but in terms of supporting panspermia, it does not add a lot."

Mautner said: "It was probably in a less-protected environment than if it was inside a frozen piece of rock. So if the bacteria survived that kind of re-entry, it could certainly survive inside a frozen meteorite."

While re-entering an atmosphere cocooned inside a meteorite would not be much of a challenge, the millions of years it could take for a rock to make the trip and the radiation of space would be bigger challenges, said Matthew Genge, a geologist from Imperial College in London.

"One thing is sure, if bacteria can survive the trip between planets, then microbes regularly hitch a lift from planet to planet," he said.




... This is not the first time I've been involved with the astronauts, not that
I've met any of them personally, but. I've dreamed of them before. ...


... Ancient and Hollow Astronauts. Hollow Earth Primer. The Green Children of
Banjos, Spain. ... Hollow Earth:Fact or Fiction. Ancient and Hollow Astronauts. ...


... Given that the Apollo astronauts brought back lunar rocks and core samples from only
6 regions out of 15 million square miles and the two Luna Soviet missions ...


DREAMING OF ASTRONAUTS. ... At this point, President Clinton came in to observe this
game as the outcome of this game influenced the fate of the 27 astronauts. ...


To walk on the moon's surface, the astronauts needed
to wear a space suit with a back mounted, portable life support system. ...


... 4-27-00 - THE ASTRONAUTS - 4-25-00 - following the news of the Shuttle
Atlantis Terraforming Mars. 4/11/00 - The Martian Domes.... ...


5-5-00 - DREAMS - Two astronauts were dragged into a theatre to show them off. ...


... And the apparent coincidence of Arthur C. Clarke writing in "2001"about a Monolith
discovered by astronauts turns out not really to be a coincidence at all. ...


... NOTE: See this page: ... to be the size of a
small house, pose no threat to people on Earth, nor to astronauts in orbit. ...


... 4-12-00 - DREAM - I was at a place where I and some other people were working
with objects that were numbered 1 thru 27 and represented astronauts. ...


... We were terrified of what we were about to experience but some women astronauts got into my section


... The astronauts in hibernation are killed first. (those asleep when the
Great Change happens). Dave (which means Love) is the lone suvivor. ...


... The Center has transcripts of the air-to-ground conversations, he said, including
the comments the astronauts made while they passed around the far side of the ...


... Even one of the astronauts admits he's not sure whether HAL's emotional responses
to the interview questions are genuine or just part of the programming. ...


... people, awaiting a second space shot after a day where some astronauts had gone ... I
wrote down with great difficulty but I got it on the piece of ...


... He was all grey. ****. 4-16-01 - DREAM - I was
looking at a series of web pages written by astronauts. Each of ...


... VISION: 03 - 03 - 03. VISION - Two astronauts on what looked like snowmobiles,
going through space and waving back at me happily. VISION - MARTIAN - 1976. ...