Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Operation AXIOM | The Stars My Destination

Fourteen years ago to the day, 1 February 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) broke up during atmospheric re-entry, killing all seven of her crew: Rick Husband, commander; William McCool, pilot; David Brown, mission specialist; Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Michael Anderson, mission specialist; Laurel Clark, mission specialist; & Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. The fateful flight, STS-107, spent sixteen days in low earth orbit, advancing science through the use of the Spacehab Double Research Module & the F.R.E.E.S.T.A.R. experimental pack.

Colonel Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, carried in his personal effects various Jewish religious objects & cultural artifacts, including a sketch of the Earth as seen from the Moon, drawn in the Auschwitz death camp during the second World War by sixteen-year-old Petr Ginz, who died a victim of the Shoah, A.K.A. the Holocaust.

Space Shuttle flights were suspended indefinitely after the disaster, stranding the Expedition 6 crew aboard the International Space Station (I.S.S.), who had been scheduled to return to earth aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (OV-104) in March '03, until they could returned safely to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule, as they were in May '03. Construction/expansion of the I.S.S. was halted until 2006.

On the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the second NX-class starship was named Columbia, in remembrance of those lost in the disaster. (This also followed the naming sequence of the Space Shuttle fleet, wherein the Columbia, the first fully-operational Shuttle, followed after the Enterprise, a proof-of-concept demonstrator & test vehicle not capable of spaceflight.)

The Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry, sixteen minutes before the scheduled landing & end of mission, resulting in the death of her crew of seven, 1 February 2003, fourteen years ago to the day.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

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