Wikipedia summarizes the missions of the space shuttle Columbia beginning in 1981. The Columbia and its crew were lost during re-entry on the morning of February 1, 2003. The Kennedy Space Center is broadcasting daily briefings on the tragic incident.
My cousin, James C. Fletcher, was responsible for launching the shuttle effort after his appointment as NASA Administrator back in 1971. During his second term at NASA, he was largely involved in efforts to recover from the Challenger accident and was in charge of the agency when the Space Shuttle finally returned to flight on September 29, 1988. He passed away several years ago.
The shuttle's loss obviously is being covered heavily by mainstream media and blog. Dougal Gunters has written a haiku about it. Dave McNamee expresses his sentiments after viewing the disaster. Jim Stewart is proud to be an American. The flag remains at half mast.