Day: February 1, 2003

  • Tragedy

    I’m unplugging for a bit.  This Google News query will give you the most up to date (most recent news at the top).  It looks like Google News passed its first major disaster, it was extremely helpful today.

    I blogged my first entry today at school.  It was eerie.  I was in class, learning about Java, JSPs, Servlets, RMI, and all kinds of stuff like that while I was reporting the news.  I don’t think anyone else surfed over to a news site.  Nobody seemed to acknowledge what had happened after class.  I just left quickly and quietly.

    The only reason that I knew something was up was because of RSS and my aggregator.

    The rest of the news entries today were done while at work.  I only caught some TV coverage, but felt pretty informed.

    Today is grouped together with a few days in my life that I can remember exactly where I was when something major happened: Challenger, Desert Storm, 9/11, and this.  I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to mind.

    This is one of those days that is like JFK’s assasination for my generation.

    We won’t know exactly what happened for quite some time.  We may never know completely.

  • Problems on the Wing; Sadness

    Fox News:

    The first indication of a potential problem occurred minutes before 9 a.m. EST, when there was a loss of temperature sensors on the shuttle’s left wing, said Ron Dittemore, the program manager. During Columbia’s liftoff, a piece of insulating foam from the fuel tank was believed to have hit that wing.

    Dittemore said the loss of the sensors on the left wing was followed seconds later by several other problems, including a loss of tire pressure and indications of excessive structural heating.


    Military satellites with infrared detectors recorded several flashes as Columbia broke apart, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity. It was unclear whether those “spikes” of heat indicated an explosion, the burning of pieces of debris re-entering the atmosphere or something else.


    In another room at Kennedy Space Center, O’Keefe met with the astronauts’ families, who had been waiting at the landing site for the shuttle’s return, spokeswoman Melissa Motichek said. Six of the seven astronauts were married, and five of them had children.

    This is so sad.  I’m sorry that this had to happen to these people and their families.


    “When the countdown clock, when it got to zero and then started going, instead of counting down, counting up and they were still not there, I told my friend, ‘I have a bad feeling. I think they are gone.’ And I was in tears,” Barr said.

  • Space Station Astronauts Retrievable With Soyuz

    Yahoo News/AP:

    A Soyuz vehicle attached to the space station could bring the three astronauts onboard back to Earth at a moment’s notice. But if the space agency’s remaining shuttles are out of service for an extended period in the wake of Saturday’s catastrophe, as seems likely, it could prove difficult to maintain the station’s operations.

  • Last Communication With Columbia


    Johnson Space Center, Houston-AP — It sounded like routine communication — but now it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

    It’s believed to be the final radio communication between NASA and space shuttle “Columbia,” which broke up this morning on its way to landing. All seven astronauts on board are dead.

    The communication message was heard shortly before nine a-m Eastern time.

    It starts with a mission controller at the Johnson Space Center in Houston saying, “Columbia, Houston we see your tire pressure messages and we did not copy your last.”

    A reply comes from an astronaut believed to be shuttle commander Rick Husband, who says “Roger.”

    The transmission then breaks off after the crew member starts to say a word starting with the sound “buh.”

  • Full Text of Bush Speech

    The Washington Post has the full text of the brief speech that Presiden Bush made this afternoon:

    BUSH: My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9 o’clock this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our space shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas.

    The Columbia’s lost. There are no survivors.

    Onboard was a crew of seven–Colonel Rick Husband, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson, Commander Laurel Clark, Captain David Brown, Commander William McCool, Dr. Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon a colonel in the Israeli air force.

    These men and women assumed great risk in this service to all humanity. In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the earth.

    These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

    All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You’re not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

    The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.

    In the skies today, we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see, there is comfort and hope.

    In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

    The same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home.

    May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America.

  • Columbia Timeline

    A timeline of events in the last flight of space shuttle Columbia. All times EST.

    Jan. 16, 10:39 a.m. – Columbia rockets into orbit from Kennedy Space Center.

    Feb. 1, 8:15 a.m. – Columbia fires braking rockets, streaks toward touchdown.

    9 a.m. – Mission Control loses all data and contact with Columbia crew.

    9 a.m. – Residents of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana report hearing “a big bang” and seeing flames in the sky.

    9:16 a.m. – Columbia’s scheduled landing.

    9:29 a.m. – NASA declares emergency.

    9:44 a.m. – NASA warns residents to stay away from possibly hazardous debris.

    11 a.m. – NASA lowers flag next to its countdown clock at Cape Canaveral, Fla., to half-staff.

    2:05 p.m. – President Bush: “Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.”

  • Indians Mourn Their Loss


    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Thousands of people in northern India braved a cold winter’s night on Saturday to ring temple bells and pray for a miracle after the space shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entry with an Indian-born astronaut on board.

  • Columbia Flight Path

    MSNBC posts the flight path of the lost space shuttle Columbia.


  • More Columbia News

    Clemens Vasters:

    Radar traces of shuttle going down.

    Bill Humphries:

    Writing from the Starbucks down the street from my dad’s in Dallas. We heard the sonic boom around 8am. It shook the windows. WFAA had a crew out to shoot the reentry for the morning newscast, and they caught the whole sad incident on tape. Ironically, some of the debris fell in the town of Palestine. Dad and I watched the video with a self-imposed clinical distance, it seemed to be the best way to handle it.

    The Houston Chronicle:

    A steady stream of somber-faced employees filed into the Johnson Space Center this morning as NASA scrambled to gather information on Space Shuttle Columbia’s disintegration over Texas.

  • Columbia Update

    NASA Flag at half staffBrian Graf:

    This is tough to take. Challenger was my generation’s JFK. I had not watched a launch since until this most recent one. I had an awful feeling that something was going to go wrong so I tuned in. I was relieved when it went up without incident. Now this happens. I’m overwhelmed with sadness.

    ABC News:

    NASA didn’t immediately declare the crew dead; however, the U.S. flag next to its countdown clock was lowered to half-staff.


    President Bush is returning to the White House after briefings on the apparent in-flight breakup of the space shuttle Columbia.


    Family members of the shuttle crew, which included the first even Israeli astronaut, were gathered on the landing strip to greet their loved ones when news of the mishap emerged. NASA officials quickly huddled the relatives into a shuttle and kept them in seclusion at the Kennedy Space Center.

  • Space Shuttle Columbia

    Clemens Vasters:

    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

    Yahoo News:

    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.

    Washington Post:

    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.

    Sky News:

    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, correspondent for the Cape Canaveral Bureau

    More from

    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.

    Space Shuttle Columbia

    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.


    Columbia Trails

    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.

  • Apokapiptik’s PHP FTP Indexer

    Scott Johnson points to Apokaliptik’s FTP indexer, which is open source and written in PHP.

    Consider it filed in the back of my head.

  • URLs, Life: Linkage From Japan

    I always feel like a rock star when I get linkage from The Diary Formerly Known as The Diary Formerly Known as Go Ahead and Make My Day.

    Babelfish usually does a half-decent job at translating it for me.

  • TBPY + tblib == EVIL!

    Phil Ringnalda points to Mark Paschal’s TBPY, a TrackBack server as a CGI written in Python.  (Thanks Phil!)

    You could do some evil stuff with TBPY + tblib.  EVIL!

    I’ve also added a highlighted version of the source (using GNU Source-highlighter).  Here they are:

    Are you sick of hearing about tblib yet?  Sorry.  I’ve been posting the more munade details in my projects channel. 

  • Distributed Internet Backup System

    A quick link before I go to bed: DIBS: Distributed Internet Backup System:

    Since disk drives are cheap, backup should be cheap too. Of course it does not help to mirror your data by adding more disks to your own computer because a fire, flood, power surge, etc. could still wipe out your local data center. Instead, you should give your files to peers (and in return store their files) so that if a catastrophe strikes your area, you can recover data from surviving peers. The Distributed Internet Backup System (DIBS) is designed to implement this vision.

    Thanks for the pointer, Erik.  I’ll have to check it out in the morning.

  • JSPWiki: Wow! What About Roller Integration?

    Wow, thanks for pointing out JSPWiki, Greg.  I love the wiki idea, but it suffers from *nuke syndrome, every wiki (more or less) looks the same.  I really like the sidebar design on the JSPWiki site and CocoonWiki.  I think I’m stuck with MoinMoin (which I still thinks rocks, btw) or the equivalent on the server side, though I think I’ll set up a JSPWiki for behind the firewall.

    How easy would it be to integrate something like JSPWiki with Roller?  I really like the integration that Mr. Orchard has accomplished over at 0xDECAFBAD.  I’m not personally a Roller user (tho I’ve played with it and love it), but given the JSP connection, I think it might not be too impossible