Transcribing from TV news: The space shuttle Columbia on mission STS-107 apparently broke up on earth athmosphere reentry. Contact was lost at 1500CET, 0800CST over Texas, scheduled landing time was 0916EST at Kennedy Space Center. The space shuttle is presumed to have disintegrated at 200000 feet and 6 times the speed of sound. People in Texas are advised to report any findings of debris to local authorities and not to go near them due to the toxic propellant used in the shuttle.
Sad, sad news. Here’s the roundup from news.google.com.
The shuttle was carrying the first Israeli astronaut and six Americans, and authorities had feared it would be a terrorist target.
There were reports of debris seen falling.
NASA declared an emergency after losing communication with space shuttle Columbia as the ship soared over Texas several minutes before its expected landing time Saturday morning.
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.”
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.
The spacecraft was due for a sheduled landing at 2.16 GMT. There are unconfirmed reports that “multiple tails” or vapour trails were seen coming from the craft as it was descending over the US.
The space shuttle Columbia is missing and presumed lost.
Search and rescue crews have been dispatched to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. NBC News is reporting a large explosion over Dallas, Texas. Video of Columbia’s descent over Texas shows multiple trails of debris reentering the atmosphere.
Mission Control in Houston last made contact with the Orbiter as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere at about 207,000 feet over Texas at about 9 a.m. EST, about 16 minutes prior to its scheduled landing at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Columbia was scheduled to land at 9:16 a.m. EST.
Tracking systems at the Kennedy Space Center did not acquire Columbia as it was scheduled to approach the Florida coast.
We will next update this box as soon as more information becomes available.
— Roger Guillemette, SPACE.com correspondent for the Cape Canaveral Bureau
More from Space.com:
Columbia was carrying a crew of seven astronauts: commander Rick Husband, pilot Willie McCool and mission specialists Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Mike Anderson, David Brown and Israeli payload specialist Ilan Ramon.
The Miami Herald:
NASA’s oldest shuttle, Columbia was inaugurated in flight on April 12, 1981, and had flown 27 times in space.
The accident was the first of its kind in the history of 42 years of space flight. NASA has never lost a spacecraft while on approach for landing. But the accident did occur only days after the 17th anniversary of the explosion of the shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Slashdot was a good source for information on 9/11, I’m sure it will be news-rich today.
Dave Winer is also covering the news:
Glenn Reynolds has a link to Spaceflight Now, which provides a real-time chronology of events.
Other webloggers are also covering events and news:
Ed Cone reflects on the tragedy:
For me, at least, the death of astronauts and the loss of a spacecraft feels very different than military casualities or the crash of a passenger plane.
Sorry about the flood of news, I think it’s a coping mechanism.