I'm watching the developing CNN story that the Space Shuttle Columbia was lost this morning on re-entry. After re-entering the atmosphere, the shuttle broke up into several pieces and scattered all over central and eastern Texas.
As of 10:00 a.m. EST, the speculation is that the shuttle was damaged on takeoff, when a piece of debris dislodged from the main fuel tank and apparently struck the wing of the shuttle. This may have dislodged some of the ceramic tiles that protect the shuttle from the enormous heat buildup during re-entry (at speeds of about six times the speed of sound).
Government officials have said that terrorism is "highly unlikely" as a cause of this event. The shuttle was just too high and traveling too fast to be vulnerable to a shoulder-fired Stinger missile or the like.
Who knows what the impact of today's event will be? I think this administration will continue to place an emphasis on space because of tis perceived importance to the national security - and, as cynics will argue, to the defense industry.
Right now, more than sadness, more than fear, more than any other emotion, I feel anger, because my gut tells me that there must have been some way this could have been prevented... and it wasn't.
UPDATE: ext|circ has some good coverage as well.Posted by wasylik at February 1, 2003 10:26 AM | TrackBack