St. Petersburg Times
tampabay.com
The space shuttle Columbia tragedy
photo
[AP photos]
Members of the Columbia crew wave as they exit the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral on Jan. 16.

Above left: Space shuttle Columbia took off from Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 16, destined to be the last of its 28 flights.

Above right: Pieces of Columbia streak across the sky 200,000 feet over Tyler, Texas, on Saturday.


February 2, 2004
A pause to remember the fall of 'Columbia'
CAPE CANAVERAL - One year after Columbia broke apart and fell in flaming streaks from the Texas sky, NASA workers who launched the shuttle and its seven astronauts and then gathered up the remains stood united in sorrow Sunday at the precise moment of destruction.

December 29, 2003
Shuttle disaster pain still lingers
The loss of the space shuttle almost a year ago rocked the tourism industry and took an emotional toll at the Kennedy Space Center.

December 12, 2003
Sensors planned for shuttle wings
SPACE CENTER, Houston - Taking a lesson from the Columbia disaster, NASA plans to embed high-tech sensors in the wings of the three remaining space shuttles to detect any blows from debris, an oversight panel said Thursday.

October 9, 2003
49-cent brush may fix shuttle
WASHINGTON - A simple foam paint brush that costs only pennies at hardware stores could be an essential tool in returning the space shuttle to orbit, NASA's administrator said Wednesday.

September 18, 2003
Daylight rule might add to shuttle delays
SPACE CENTER, Houston - A new NASA safety rule restricting shuttle launches to daylight hours will lead to more and longer flight delays and, unless the space agency is strong enough to resist, deadline pressures similar to those that contributed to the Columbia disaster, officials warned Wednesday.

September 11, 2003
'Columbia' pieces packed up for storage
CAPE CANAVERAL - Workers at Kennedy Space Center are packing up the 84,000 pieces of the space shuttle Columbia for storage. But unlike debris from the Challenger, some remnants will be available to researchers and perhaps someday put on display in a museum.

August 27, 2003
Board rips NASA on management, safety
WASHINGTON - NASA's overconfident management and inattention to safety doomed Columbia every bit as much as the chunk of foam that struck the shuttle with deadly force, investigators concluded Tuesday. Without drastic changes, they said, another disaster is likely.

August 24, 2003
Congress eyes NASA 'blob of bureaucracy'
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The report into the shuttle Columbia disaster will look hauntingly familiar to those who lived through the agony of Challenger.

July 27, 2003
NASA chief pledges to fix agency culture
SPACE CENTER, Houston - The space shuttle engineers who desperately wanted zoom-in satellite pictures of the damaged Columbia in orbit never spoke up at key meetings and never told the manager in charge of the flight.

July 23, 2003
Shuttle mission manager breaks silence with tears
SPACE CENTER, Houston - With tears in her eyes, the NASA manager who dismissed the possibility during Columbia's flight that the shuttle had been seriously damaged by foam defended her decisions Tuesday and said no one should be blamed for the disaster.

July 17, 2003
Shuttle safety inspectors say they had to buy own tools
CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA inspectors charged with making sure space shuttles are safe to fly were forced to buy their own tools and prevented from making spot checks, a Columbia accident investigator says.

June 25, 2003
'Columbia' panel: It was the foam after all
WASHINGTON - In their strongest statement yet on the Columbia disaster, investigators said Tuesday that flyaway foam from the fuel tank was "the most probable cause" of the wing damage that brought down the space shuttle almost five months ago.

June 15, 2003
20 years later, Ride still building her shuttle legacy
HOUSTON - Former astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, is participating in her second investigation of a shuttle disaster and acknowledges it's a discouraging way to mark the 20th anniversary of her historic flight.

June 13, 2003
Bolt fragment may threaten space shuttles
WASHINGTON - Investigators have found a new threat to future space shuttles - a 40-pound bolt fragment that could fly off during launch and smash into the spacecraft with catastrophic results as it races toward orbit.

June 7, 2003
Test bolsters theory foam doomed shuttle
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - A chunk of foam fired at high speed cracked a space shuttle wing panel Friday, offering what investigators said was the most powerful evidence yet to support the theory that a piece of the stiff, lightweight insulation doomed Columbia.

May 29, 2003
Board may consider a shuttle test flight
HOUSTON - The Columbia accident investigators said Wednesday they might recommend NASA stage a demonstration space shuttle flight before resuming full-scale missions.

May 18, 2003
Board views shuttle pieces
CAPE CANAVERAL - With the last truckload of Columbia wreckage delivered, the accident investigation board looked over the broken and charred remains of the space shuttle Saturday, paying especially close attention to what little is left of the left wing.

May 7, 2003
'Columbia' board settles on scenario
HOUSTON - Turning an important corner in its three-month-old investigation, the board investigating the Columbia disaster Tuesday said it has settled on a detailed "working scenario" of what went wrong to destroy the space shuttle and kill its crew.

April 16, 2003
Mere slit may have been 'Columbia' wing's undoing

As investigators braid clues from wreckage, images and sensors, the breach that allowed heated gases changes shape.

Mar. 27, 2003
Air pockets in foam puzzle shuttle board

CAPE CANAVERAL -- Accident investigators said Wednesday they found air pockets in the insulating foam of a spare shuttle fuel tank, potentially treacherous flaws that may have been present on the tank that shed debris during Columbia's final liftoff two months ago.

Mar. 26, 2003
Shuttle reliability debated

CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA may have to live with a risk factor of two catastrophes for every 113 shuttle flights, so it should limit its crew size and use robots and unmanned rockets whenever possible, a missile and rocket expert said Tuesday.

Mar. 17, 2003
Focus turns to small shuttle piece

A small but key piece of wreckage from the space shuttle Columbia's left landing-gear door, shown in photos released over the weekend, may help investigators zero in on the spot where superheated air first breached the vehicle's skin, according to the Washington Post.

Mar. 12, 2003
Shuttle panel looks at freak wind

HOUSTON -- The Columbia accident investigation board raised the possibility Tuesday that an unusually strong wind shear a minute into the flight weakened the shuttle's left side. The board also suggested the age of the spacecraft may have contributed to the catastrophe.

Mar. 11, 2003
Astronaut's family shares their memories

HOUSTON, Texas -- Less than two days before the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas, Iain Clark wrote his astronaut mother onboard, saying he missed her.

Mar. 5, 2003
Thermal tiles have molten aluminum

HOUSTON -- Molten aluminum was found on Columbia's thermal tiles and inside the leading edge of the left wing, bolstering the theory that the shuttle was destroyed by hot gases that penetrated a damaged spot on the wing, the accident investigation board said Tuesday.

Feb. 27, 2003
Shuttle 'what-ifs' hauntingly accurate

A wing breach, overheated wheel wells and sensor failures were debated at NASA.

Feb. 24, 2003
Shuttle searchers find more bits

LAS VEGAS -- Teams searching for parts shed by the space shuttle Columbia as it broke apart found more small metal fragments Sunday in a rural part of southeast Nevada.

Feb. 22, 2003
More e-mails show concern raised during shuttle mission

WASHINGTON -- A NASA safety engineer warned two days before Columbia broke apart that the shuttle might be in "marginal" condition and that others in the space agency weren't adequately considering the danger of a breach near its left wheels, according to internal e-mails NASA disclosed Friday.

Feb. 21, 2003
Board examines how foam is applied to shuttle tanks

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Just how the foam insulation was applied to the fuel tanks of NASA's space shuttles is getting special attention by the board investigating the Columbia accident, officials said Thursday.

Feb. 20, 2003
New shuttle inquiry rules nothing out

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- In the days after Columbia's destruction, NASA officials made their case: The foam couldn't have caused that kind of damage. It wasn't ice or metal that flew off the fuel tank. The left wing was not breached.

Feb. 19, 2003
Shuttle shed small pieces over California, panel says

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Space shuttle Columbia began losing pieces over the California coast well before it disintegrated over Texas, the accident investigation board reported Tuesday, finally confirming what astronomers and amateur skywatchers have been saying from Day One.

Feb. 18, 2003
Farmers asked to watch for debris during plowing

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- As the days become weeks since Columbia's disintegration over Texas, fewer and fewer pieces of space shuttle wreckage are turning up, even though the calls keep coming in.

Feb. 17, 2003
Sound waves may give clues

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Recordings made by instruments sensitive to sound below the threshold of human hearing may help investigators build a timeline of any uncharacteristic movements made by Columbia minutes before it broke apart, scientists say.

Why did wing of 'Columbia' heat up?
No one knows yet what caused the shuttle disaster, but experts offer some theories.

Feb. 14, 2003
Break in shuttle's heat shield more than a missing tile

Investigators are still trying to find whether 2,000-degree air may have entered the Columbia through a structural tear or a hole made by debris.

Feb. 13, 2003
Shuttle arrives as pieces of a puzzle

The first loads of Columbia's remains are brought to Kennedy Space Center to be reassembled on a grid in a hangar.

Feb. 12, 2003
Inquiry will find cause, chief pledges

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- The head of the space shuttle inquiry said Tuesday he has the best investigators in the country to figure out what caused the Columbia crash and is confident the mystery will be solved. But one of those experts cautioned the scope of the disaster is the biggest any of them has ever seen.

Feb. 11, 2003
Wing part came from troubled side of shuttle

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- After three days of uncertainty, NASA said Monday a piece of broken wing found last week was from space shuttle Columbia's left side -- where all the problems appear to have begun in the final minutes of the doomed flight.

Feb. 10, 2003
Focus on humanity at shuttle service

At a Hindu temple, people of varied religions and backgrounds are united in their grief for the Columbia astronauts.

Feb. 9, 2003
More questions than answers

SPACE CENTER, Houston -- One week after the space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it streaked over Texas just minutes from home, NASA still has more questions than answers.
A shared space mission, but worlds apart
Kennedy and Johnson space centers work together, but have very different cultures.
Perspective: No time to cut and run
NASA has gone 30 years without a big dream. In disaster's wake, the time has come to aim higher.

Feb. 8, 2003
A goodbye to their bird

More than 5,000 of those who helped design and build Columbia gather to mourn its crew.
Part of shuttle wing found; photos studied
JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas -- Search teams have found a portion of the "leading edge" of one of shuttle Columbia's wings, while NASA is examining Air Force photos taken during the doomed spacecraft's last moments that could shed light on the cause of the disaster.

Feb. 7, 2003: NASA: Falling foam is still remote suspect in disaster
SPACE CENTER, Houston -- A day after all but ruling it out as a leading cause, NASA said Thursday that investigators are still considering whether a piece of insulating foam that struck Columbia's wing during liftoff was enough to bring down the shuttle.

Feb. 6, 2003
NASA searching for reasons other than foam

New theories about the crash include space debris damaging tiles and possible mistakes during the shuttle's refurbishment.
Congress to begin hearing next week
WASHINGTON -- House and Senate committees with oversight of the space program will convene a joint hearing Wednesday to begin their inquiries into what caused the breakup of the shuttle Columbia.
Russia asks for funding to fill shuttle void
Without Columbia, its crew capsules and cargo ships are the only link to the international space station.
Remains taken for identification
NASA says it believes remains from each astronaut have been found. Also, the space agency continues to search for shuttle debris.
Feeney named to panel planning NASA inquiry
ORLANDO -- U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, was appointed Wednesday to the House Science Committee to help investigate the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Feb. 5, 2003
A final contrail wisps across generations

A Lakewood Elementary teacher draws on her own memories to help students understand the shuttle's loss.
Another tragedy, a new awareness
As I sleepily counted out seven rounded scoops into the filter cone for the morning coffee, seven astronauts were dying.
As funding fell, safety concerns rose
WASHINGTON -- Two years ago, an independent commission that reviews NASA programs concluded that after a decade of shuttle budget cuts, "safety concerns have never been greater."
'Independent' board: 3 of 10 from NASA
Within hours of the Columbia disaster, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe promised there would be two thorough investigations -- one by the agency itself, the other by a board working independently of NASA.
Supplies delivered to space station
KOROLYOV, Russia -- A Russian cargo craft docked Tuesday at the international space station, carrying fuel, food and water.
The president's address
Excerpts from President Bush's remarks about the astronauts at the memorial:
Families' ability to sue hinges on inquiry
Unless a contractor is found to be at fault, the relatives may have to turn to public opinion.
Mourn, but move ahead, Bush urges
SPACE CENTER, Houston -- The longing to soar beyond all that is familiar cannot be broken despite broken hearts, President Bush told mourners during a chilly outdoor memorial service Tuesday for the seven astronauts who died on the space shuttle Columbia.
Ice under insulation could have hit shuttle
HOUSTON -- Investigators trying to piece together what happened to the space shuttle Columbia searched for debris on both sides of the country Tuesday while attention focused on whether ice played a role in the disaster.
Contractors get a close look
The investigation is likely to examine whether privatization undermined NASA procedures and rules.

Feb. 4, 2003
As NASA restudies lost foam, it's puzzled

HOUSTON -- NASA engineers said Monday they may have erred in concluding that a 2.6-pound chunk of insulation did not seriously damage the shuttle Columbia's thermal tiles during its ascent into space. They said they will reinvestigate the incident. (2/4)
Thermal tile problems easy to criticize, difficult to fix
HOUSTON -- After each mission, space shuttle orbiters return to Earth bruised and battered.
Schools closed while teams test campuses for toxicity
LUFKIN, Texas -- Gary Holcomb spent Monday walking along the roofs of Naches High School and Naches Elementary School, his eyes straining to catch any piece of space shuttle debris that federal cleanup crews might have missed.
No one hit by debris shouldn't be surprise
Thousands of pieces of the doomed shuttle Columbia fell from a height of nearly 40 miles, careening toward Earth at incredible speeds and spreading over a 27,000-square-mile area.
Foam insulation has history of damaging shuttle
NEW ORLEANS -- The foam insulation that peeled off as the Columbia lifted off Jan. 16, striking the shuttle's left wing, has been a headache for NASA officials for years.
Obscurity may change, old values remain
Amid tragedy and sudden fame, simple values in Nacogdoches, Texas, shine through.
Space Coast cringes at thought of slowdown
The Challenger explosion devastated the area's economy. Many business owners and workers hope Columbia's effects are different.
Innovator retains faith in thermal tiles
MIMS -- Art teacher Chip Gillespie hasn't told his students at Pinewood Elementary about his work on the space shuttle's protective tiles.
Tributes prepared for 7 lost
Across the bay area, services and memorials are planned to honor Columbia's crew. (2/4)
Classrooms lose a bond to space
Classes who followed the shuttle's progress discuss the tragedy. One was at Cape Canaveral Saturday.
Commentary
Mary Jo Melone: With them, we soared to heights unimagined
Lt. Col. Michael Anderson's father said it. The mother of Kalpana Chawla did, too.
Jan Glidewell: Space travel is a part of who we are, risks and all
On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik removed me, at least part of the way, from what passed for geekdom in those days.
Editorial: Go boldly, safely
The best way to honor the seven astronauts lost in the shuttle Columbia is to continue manned space exploration with enough funding to ensure safety.
Editorial: The 'light-truck' loophole
Imagine if wealthy business owners were actually rewarded for buying the largest, most inefficient SUVs by allowing them to deduct more than half the sticker price from their taxes. Actually, you don't have to make up that scenario, because it's an existing loophole that cost the government about $1-billion in tax revenues last year.
Letters: Don't let shuttle disaster turn us toward defeatism
It is certainly tragic that the lives of seven exceptional people were lost in the Columbia disaster. But the answer is not to stop or curtail the shuttle program. That type of surrender would have stopped millenniums of humanity's greatest pioneers, from Socrates to Galileo to Columbus to the Wright brothers and numerous others, from pressing forward to extend the reach and the knowledge of humanity.

Feb. 3, 2003
Suspicion focusing on long-glitchy thermal tiles
They've been a problem since the first flight. NASA has failed to find a substitute -- or even a way to deal with them in orbit.
Sensors give hints of rising trouble
As four separate investigations begin, new details paint a picture of a spacecraft unexpectedly heating up as it tried to get home.
Kin of Israeli 'wrapped up in our grief'
HOUSTON -- Grieving friends and relatives of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon arrived in Houston on Sunday to join Ramon's widow and children.
The world mourns but questions, too
The explosion of the space shuttle Columbia was big news everywhere, but coverage in many foreign media reflected the world's ambivalent feelings toward its only superpower.
Remnants of tragedy
The trail of debris from the final flight of the shuttle Columbia brought curiosity, sadness, even a sense of history.
Why couldn't 'Columbia' have Hollywood ending?
CAPE CANAVERAL -- If liftoff damage to Columbia's thermal tiles caused the disaster, was the crew doomed from the very start?
Day later, space station crew gets news
HOUSTON -- The three-man crew at the international space station was grieving but still proud to be on its mission after being told about the Columbia disaster Sunday morning by a NASA official.
Sara Fritz: When disaster hits, president in line for blame
WASHINGTON -- Sitting in church with his wife, Laura, President Bush received a vivid reminder Sunday that his critics are likely to blame him for the nation's most recent tragedy, the loss of the space shuttle.
Howard Troxler: NASA officials show the right stuff with candor on Columbia
In the wake of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its seven-member crew, what have we not heard?
Robert Trigaux: NASA feels pinch of the bottom line
NASA has long symbolized our romantic affair with space, the final frontier.
For Space Coast, loss hits home
TITUSVILLE -- In the cramped office at United Christian Fellowship Church, the Rev. James Warren had yet to form the words his congregation had come to hear.
Religion is comfort for many
After witnessing the fragility of humankind's search of the heavens, many in the Tampa Bay area turned away from science Sunday morning to seek comfort in God.

Feb. 2, 2003
What happened?
NASA left with tragic puzzle as nation mourns.
Landing shuttle a matter of precision
While the takeoff is the most dangerous part of a space shuttle mission, former shuttle crew members say the landing ranks a close second.
Bush again forced to lead nation through tragedy
The president must again take on the role of a healer as he consoles the families of the shuttle crew and the nation.
Crew's fate transforms a routine morning
CAPE CANAVERAL -- The morning fog was burning off at Kennedy Space Center as Mission Control gave the seven astronauts aboard Columbia the go-ahead to come home.
Columbia: the crew
'Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.' -- President Bush
Israel embraced astronaut as hero and source of hope
Ilan Ramon saw himself as a representative of the Jewish people. Those who knew him say he died pursuing his dream.
World leaders share shock, condolences
World leaders were united in expressing condolences to the United States and Israel for the loss of the seven astronauts aboard space shuttle Columbia.
Ship had a flawed yet storied record
Columbia had only five trouble-free flights, but it contributed to science, entertainment and national defense.
'Challenger' disaster changed program
The space shuttle initiative came to a halt in 1986, but after improvements NASA and the nation recovered and pushed forward.
Families of seven awaited a return never to come
Struggling through grief, several families insist the space program must continue.
Back-yard cameras record tragedy
A Texas doctor and his wife wanted to watch the shuttle fly over their yard. They end up documenting the disaster.
The shuttle disaster: Q&A
Q: What went wrong on Saturday morning?
Of 80 experiments aboard, some will be 'their legacy'
Columbia's 16-day mission featured more than 80 experiments ranging from the effects of space travel on astronauts to the possibility of creating a new perfume.
Boeing may face problems
Already reeling from plummeting commercial airline orders, Boeing Co. could face new problems with the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia.
Bay area reprises sad memories
Shoppers paused in aisles and paradegoers observed silence as word spread of a still too-familiar tragedy.
Tragedy won't tame teachers' tall dreams
PALM HARBOR -- Chuck Cramer, a teacher who dreamed of rocketing into space aboard the shuttle, was about to walk outside Saturday morning to watch Columbia sail overhead.
Be upfront with children, experts say
Rachel Rosen, age 10, was out with her father and family friends when the news came on the radio.
For Jews especially, pride turns to anguish
At St. Petersburg's Temple Beth-El on Saturday, Rabbi Michael Torop was nearing the end of the morning's service.