The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster
Just seventeen years after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, NASA faced another devastating destruction when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart after reentering the earth’s atmosphere in February of 2003. Launched on January 16th after a two-year delay, the Columbia suffered a damaged wing from its take-off when a piece of foam insulation broke off the shuttle’s propellant tank and crashed into the left wing. Unsure of what could be done, NASA allowed the mission to continue in space and closely monitored the ship’s reentry back onto Earth two weeks later. During the return, however, with many heat tiles missing or damaged, the shuttle began breaking apart early in the morning over California, and all seven crew members aboard were killed. That day, American fags flew half-staff as President George Bush addressed the nation. It would be another two and a half years before NASA put another space shuttle (the Discovery) in flight. The Space Shuttle Program formally ended on August 31, 2011.
Why do you think space travel is so dangerous? What do you think are some of NASA’s top priorities before they launch space shuttles? How do you think America honors victims of disasters like the Columbia disintegration?