Space Shuttle Columbia

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by Tanya
Publish date
1 February 2013
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It was 10 years ago today, 1 February 2003, that the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart on its way back to Earth. The STS-107 crew had spent 16 days in orbit and were just 16 minutes from landing when the accident tragically occurred.

Crew of STS-107 This photograph survived on a roll of unprocessed film recovered from the accident. Bottom row (L to R): Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist, and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. Top row (L to R): David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot, and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander.
Source: NASA
 

On a trip to the USA in 2002, I attended a talk by astronaut and astronomer, John Grunsfeld. He was asked “why fly into space when the risks are so high?” and his reply has always stuck with me. It was pretty much “because it’s the most amazing thing to do.

He went on to explain that while astronauts are fully aware of the risks involved – and they don't take them lightly – they are also certain that the benefits of what they are doing will lead to greater things for our future.

Today we remember the amazing men and women who have believed in the spirit of space exploration. I hope there will always be pioneers just like them, who are willing to push the limits of what’s possible and dream big for all of us.

Links:

Powerhouse Museum: "Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short..."

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David 3 February, 2013 11:53
Yes, space travel and space training are inherently high risk activities. History records the deaths of three Apollo 1 astronauts in January 1976, one Soyuz 1 cosmonaut in April 1967, three Soyuz 11 cosmonauts in June 1971, seven Shuttle Challenger astronauts in January 1986, the loss of Columbia a decade ago, and finally the loss of 3 cosmonauts and 5 astronauts in various training accidents. Each time investigations have forced changes to technical processes, management practices and safety procedures. It's dangerous but that's part of being human and our desire to explore the universe.
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Lee-Anne 1 February, 2013 14:51
What a poignant reminder thanks Tanya. It is the adventurers and risk takers who inevitably are the ones to guide us forward in all areas of human endeavour.
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