Saturday, February 26, 2005

I haven't posted to the "Shuttle Lost" category in some time.  This seems an appropriate addition.

Forensics scientists reconstruct diary of Israeli astronaut. NEW ORLEANS -- A small heap of paper that survived the fiery disintegration of space shuttle Columbia, a 38-mile fall to Earth, and two months of exposure to rain and sun in a Texas field has been painstakingly restored by forensic scientists, yielding the flight diary and notes of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. [Boston Globe -- National News]

7:25:08 AM    

  Thursday, February 20, 2003

Song of the month.

Michael Taht helps us remember Columbia, and the deep human urge to fly equally far and free. The song is Rhysling and Me. Here's the original MP3. Here's the version he made after Columbia went down. Here are the lyrics. Both are relesed under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license.

Try to hear and read it with dry eyes.

It helps if you look up.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

9:42:04 AM    

  Thursday, February 06, 2003

Lyrical Tributes

Columbia gem of the sky.

A friend points to the lyrics of "Fire in the Sky", by Jordin Kare. It was while reading it that Buzz Aldrin, #2 man on the moon, broke down on TV...

Prometheus, they say, brought God's fire down to man.
And we've caught it, tamed it, trained it since our history began.
Now we're going back to heaven just to look him in the eye,
and there's a thunder 'cross the land, and a fire in the sky.

The lyrics in my own head were from Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush"...

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children crying and colors flying
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun
Flyin' mother nature's silver seed
To a new home in the sun

... and Jackson Browne's "Late for the Sky."

On a less musical (but more useful) note, Dana Blankenhorn has some interesting stuff to say about Space Elevators.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

7:17:46 AM    

Excellent Thoughts as Blogging Matures

Journalizing Journalism.

Chris Gulker:

In my mind, the rise of Weblogs parallels events in the 16th Century when one of the first networks - reliable postal service - appeared. Shortly after people like Locke and Galileo and Descartes began writing each other about their discoveries, and then scientific academies formed, where these letters would be read aloud to others who shared an interest. The world has never looked back, since. Think 'Renaissance'. Think 'Industrial Revolution'.

I make no claim to be on a par with Galileo, or Locke, or even Doc, for that matter, but I do believe that the global network and easy-to-use Weblog tools, RSS feeds etc. have fundamentally changed authorship. It has been democratized, and pushed down from the small, theoretically-highly-expert, professional cadre that were the norm in broadcast media to include a wider group of both amateur and professional authors who are the norm in peer networks like Weblog communities.

This is a good thing, and you saw it operating last Saturday morning, when the Columbia foam-strikes-wing theory emerged on numerous Weblogs, hours before NASA and big media outlets made mention. That theory was stitched together through Weblogs talking, and branching, and picking up informed opinion, eyewitness acounts and media clips. The theory just emerged as interested, thoughtful people put the pieces together: it was like a human parallel processing machine.

Bonus links: Craig Burton's The Web Renaissance. That was two years ago, almost exactly. And one year ago, Phil Wolff's Craig Burton wants the world to dance.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

As I worked on the Shuttle Lost page Saturday and Sunday, I was amazed at the myriad of sources available and how quickly one could get differing opinions and points of view.  Most of the links were "professional" (i.e. reasoned opinion that respected other's opinions) and only a few were crass or childish.


7:15:50 AM    

  Tuesday, February 04, 2003


My 8th grade math teacher always warned us of anyone called an "ex" anything... this note from b.cognosco is on point:

Today's Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) on the future of manned space flight quotes a number of "experts" -- not all of whom are right.

[...] "Any specific mission you can identify to do in space, you can design and build an unmanned space craft to do it more effectively, more economically and more safely," said Alex Roland, a professor of history at Duke University and for eight years a historian at NASA. Manned space flights are more about capturing the public's imagination than science, he said. "It's circus, it's just pure circus." [...] [WSJ Online]

By this philosophy we don't actually need doctors, history professors, or even steering wheels in cars. Let's just have machines do it all. It was a dumb thing to say.

12:13:07 PM    

From Doc:

It's worse than it appears.

Guardian: NASA memo warned of damage to shuttle.

Then there's this, this and this.

For a sense of the human cost, Trinetizen has a long and moving piece by Julian Matthews about Astronaunt Kalpana Chawla. (This link is a bit more browser-friendly.) Steve at Illruminations observes both how the media gets it wrong, and how hard it is to explain the bad stuff to kids. He adds two excellent links to blog entries by David Pinto on Astronaunt Dave Brown, and some of the last things Brown had to say.

More from Florida Today.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

11:48:59 AM    

New Posts

Howard Owens writes of the need to expand our goals and accelerate our efforts in space exploration.


I know you have been collecting memorials and various sites regarding Columbia. I have placed a memorial on my site that might interest your readers. It is on the index page of the site, so they do not have to surf the site to see the memorial, I am not looking for business, only expressing my own grief and sorrow at the loss of Columbia. Please consider passing this site on to your readers. the movie opens directly from the link. It is a one megabyte file so users with a dial up connection will have to wait a couple of minutes for it to open. Users with high speed connections can view and see the movie in a high quality version with the high quality link posted on the index page of the site. Again, as I said, I'm not looking for business, only to share my efforts with the world. Thank you.


February Morn

Where were you that February Morn

In Texas where the earth was torn

In your chair your eyes all a glaze

To see the mist and the streak, all ablaze

It stood for those seven

Who dared to dream in the sky

It was the Columbia in descent

Never to arrive

It took only a second to change

their lives forever

Their dreams as they knew them will go on

forever and ever

As you gaze at the sky late at night

Remember them all smiling as they

took their final flight

Their bravery and love of space

was their life and their love

they are looking down upon us now

as they fly from above


In honor of The Columbia Crew

Rick D. Husband

Kalpana Chawla

William C McCool

David M. Brown

Laurel Clark

Michael P. Anderson

IIan Ramon


Written by:

11:45:11 AM    

Many agree with John:

I was thinking the same thing as Dave was when he wrote "Moon Missions."  It was: weren't those guys lucky to have participated in the space program.  Sure, they took a risk (a known risk), and they ended up paying for it with their lives.  However, they accomplished something that so few of us will ever get to do.  Would I take a 2% risk (there is probably a higher risk if the right statistical approach is used) of catastrophic failure to go to space?  In a NY minute.  After listening to the relatives of the astronauts that died on STS-107, one thing stands out: its clear both they and the astronauts knew the risk involved and accepted it as part of doing something that was truly exceptional. A true hero mindset.

There is something we can do to help make going to space both safer and more economical:  build a new space transportation system with modern technology.  The shuttle was designed with early 1970's technology.  There is reason to speculate that we have made as much technological and scientific progress in the last 25 years than we had made in all the years before that.  Our inability to find it in our national will to apply that new technology to one of the few great human endeavors continues to astound me. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

Moon Missions is worth the read.

7:03:14 AM    

The other casualties...

At NASA hub, grief and comfort. Workers take solace in a shared mission, but worry about layoffs. [Christian Science Monitor | Top Stories]

The letters from the children -- full of dreams.  But, here is an excerpt from Doc Searls that really puts things in perspective:

The hard answers 


Yesterday the kid wanted to know what, exactly, happened to the astronaunts when the shuttle "came apart" on re-entry. How were they killed? Was it the same as with the Challenger?

  I lied. I told him both shuttles were blown into small pieces, astronaunts included. "Small pieces? How small?" More to the point, "Is there any way they could have lived, even for a little while?"
  In fact, the Challenger astronaunts were apparently alive all the way down to the water, though it's not certain they were conscious.
  What happened to the Columbia astronaunts is less clear. But I didn't want to tell him what I had read about the bodies.
  Before we went outside to look at the stars, he said "What's seven and seven?" He knew he answer, but wanted me to give him the number anyway. "Fourteen," I said. "Why?"
  "We need to pray for all fourteen astronaunts on the two shuttles," he said.
  And so we did.

7:00:29 AM    

Comments later...

Text: Excerpts From NASA News Conferences. Following are excerpts from NASA news conferences yesterday morning and afternoon, as recorded by The New York Times. Speakers at the first session included William F. Readdy, administrator of the space flight and Maj. Gen. Michael C. Kostelnik, deputy associate administrator for the space shuttle and International Space Station programs. Ron D. Dittemore, NASA's shuttle program manager, spoke at the afternoon news conference. Fuller excerpts are available at [New York Times: Politics]

6:57:24 AM    

The questioning..

Future of the Shuttle Program Is Linked to the Space Station's. Questions are being raised about the space shuttle program which, along with the International Space Station, was conceived to follow the successful Apollo landings. By John Noble Wilford. [New York Times: Politics]

6:50:33 AM    

What do we want to be when we grow up?

I sometimes think we as a country do not have a "big dream" in front of us.  We are all very busy trying to live our individual lives.  Yet, without some inspiration, what will we become?  I am very much involved in politics and it seems that what is debated in the campaign is more about the here and now rather than the future.  Anyway, here is an article, focused on space exploration, to cause one to think about what we want to be.

Reviving Romance With Space, Even as 'Space Age' Fades. Astronomers and space fans insist that the deep human desire to discover who we are in the universe will triumph over the momentary cultural queasiness. By Amy Harmon. [New York Times: Technology]

6:49:13 AM    

  Sunday, February 02, 2003

Listen up!

Breaking News: NASA Asks Public for Shuttle Photo Uploads. NASA is asking the public to help in the investigation of the shuttle tragedy. The agency has set up this... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

9:46:08 PM    

And from Texas.

Dean Esmay is in the middle of the debris field in Palestine, Texas.

6:50:59 PM    

Other sites...

Daypop's Top 40 list -- all focus on the Columbia.  A good site to locate other sites to see.

3:51:09 PM    

Front Page Images has put together a gallery of cover snapshots from a sampling of sites and analyzed them.  It is a rather impressive collection of front page images from around the country.  Well worth the look.

3:36:30 PM    

En Espanol

eCuaderno: Spanish Blog by Jose Luis Orihuela

Cobertura y repercusiones en la Web del desastre del Columbia (Web Coverage and Blog Reacts to Columbia Tragedy)

1:12:08 PM    

Outliner task

Will construct on roll using Outliner and Activerenderer later this pm. 

12:05:24 PM    

Family time...

My apologies for not keeping this up-to-date.  But, I need to spend time with the kids before they leave today...  Will catch up later.

10:20:36 AM    

And the flow continues...

Our two (inno)cents' worth.

Ross remembers Columbia's first launch through the eyes of his ten-year-old self. William Gibson does the same.

Here's what surprised me most about my six-year-old's response yesterday: he was glued to the news. All day long. Not on TV ("They keep showing the same thing over and over"), but on radio ("Gee, the Israeli astronaunt had four kids"). Every time we got back in the car he wanted me to find a news station that might have more fresh information about What Happened.

As usual, blogs don't always lead with the news, but they reliably make it personal.

And there are so many wise old heads out there. Read Lou Josephs' post on the discussion page here. Lou's an old radio guy too.

Should have noticed earlier that Susan Kitchens has lots of good stuff.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

10:04:53 AM    

  Saturday, February 01, 2003

More tributes

Steve Bogart makes this contribution:

Columbia memorial


Richard Hall also makes an elegant statement:

columbia (17k image)

In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

Brendan Loy, a USC student, has a stupendous minute by minute update with many links, here.

And, David Pinto was a guest of David Brown's at Columbia's Launch.  He talks about the experience and getting to know the astronaut.

10:10:23 PM    

Fitting Tributes

Jerry Pournelle, the itenerant columnist from Byte and a true advocate of space exploration, has this to say:

O Spirit, whom the Father sent
To spread abroad the firmament;
O Wind of heaven, by thy might,
Save all who dare the eagle's flight.
       And keep them by the watchful care
       From every peril in the air.


Columbia is down. It was inevitable that we would lose another shuttle, and statistically likelier that it would be the first one; none of which makes it any easier when it happens.

Because an Israeli war hero -- he led the strike against Iraq's nuclear research facility -- was aboard, the speculation will be intense: was this a terrorist operation?  The likelihood is low. As I understand it, Columbia began to break up at 200,000 feet or more. This is far too high for nearly any kind of attack; I can think of munitions we could put on an F-15 that might do it, but it would not be easy, and it would be pretty obvious that it had been done. (The F-15 of course wouldn't get anywhere near that high.)

There is also another possible attack against the bird when in orbit that might cause tile damage. This could be overlooked and cause it to break up hours or days later on re-entry. This too is extremely unlikely. 

The shuttles are old, and Columbia was the oldest. Any malfunction in the controls in the flight regime can get her into an unrecoverable attitude.; which is probably what happened.

The work of test pilots is dangerous and those who explore the boundaries of our knowledge know the risks. Go out to Edwards Air Force Base and look at the street names if you doubt it.

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.

And I have this letter:

Dr. Pournelle:

Mr. Heinlein wrote a verse in one of his short stories, of the Prayer for Travelers:

Almighty Ruler of the all,
 Whose Power extends to great and small,
 Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
 Whose least creation fills with awe,
      O grant thy mercy and thy grace,
      To those who venture into space.


And, from a NY Times editorial:

America Mourns, Again. For the second time in the space age, we were jolted out of a long period of safety in exploring the world outside our planet. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

9:49:17 PM    


Columbia collectibles soar on eBay. Within hours of the Columbia tragedy, hundreds of items featuring the space shuttle are listed for sale as prices climb. By Scott Ard, Staff Writer, CNET [CNET]

Such behavior is unnecessary, inconsiderate and rude.  And, that's all I've got to say about that.

9:40:00 PM    

More links

Dave Winer is, in Doc's words, "all over this thing"  Dave points to Scott Adams who is compiling a long list of links

3:40:40 PM    

NY TimesMore

Disaster Stirs Already Unsettled Feelings Across the Country. This morning's tragedy fell as a harsh blow to a nation still struggling with the aftermath of the most devastating terrorist attack in its history. By Todd S. Purdum. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

Triumphant Return of Israeli Space Hero Turns Into Nightmare. It is not too much to say that along with an Israeli flag, Col. Ilan Ramon carried Israel's dreams with him into space. By James Bennet. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

1:48:49 PM    

From John Robb

Once again Dave is providing excellent coverage of breaking news on the event.  I wonder what is going to happen to the three astronauts on the space station given that the three remaining shuttles are likely to be grounded for an extended period of time.

[John Robb's Radio Weblog]
1:47:37 PM    

Doc adds more

Spacing out 

  Columbia was the first (and for now the last) shuttle launched into space.
  The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on Columbia.
  The remaining shuttles are Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis.
  NASA considered mothballing Columbia in 2001.
  NASA's servers are being hit pretty hard right now, clearly.
  My guess is that the current International Space Station crew will return on a Soyuz flight and there will be no further launches for at least two years. (Here's the current schedule, which is now on hold.)
  This will back up all kinds of stuff that depends on shuttle flights, though the ISS will be hardest hit.
The second lesson 
  I was going to get up and watch the Shuttle re-enter the atmosphere this morning, but forgot to set the alarm.
  Instead, a few minutes ago, I got a call from my sister, whose voice sounded just like it did when she called before dawn on September 11, 2001.
  Now I'm sitting here with a six year old boy who loves aviation and space travel, talking about what happened to Columbia, and how something so adventurous and wonderful could end so badly.
  It's been almost exactly seventeen years since the last Shuttle disaster. Not long afterwards I wrote Accidental Lessons: Reflections on the Challenger Tragedy.
  I'm sure we'll learn from this one too.
[Doc Searls Weblog]

1:46:25 PM    

Off to Scitrek

To visit the Challenger Learning Center.  I will take notes.

1:13:07 PM    

NY Times kicks in:

White House Rules Out Terror; NASA Sends Search Teams. Space shuttle Columbia apparently broke apart in flames as it streaked over Texas toward its scheduled landing today. By James Barron. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

And the Christian Science Monitor

1:12:22 PM    

From Gilmor's E-Journal:

The space station and shuttle program were under fire for other, good reasons. They do little for true exploration of space. A reexamination of the entire space program -- and maybe turning it into a truly global affair -- would be smart at this point.

But we would dishonor the memory of the astronauts, and take away from our own future, if we let this tragedy turn us away from the heavens. Space is humanity's destiny, if it has one. We are an exploring, expansionist race. We must go on.[link]

1:04:37 PM    

From The Philosophical Cowboy:


The Cowboy offers these thoughts and the following links:

Ha'aretz the Israeli daily, has been quick in getting up coverage of events, and reporting on Sharon placing a call offering his sympathies to the father of Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut.

"Even before the Columbia exploded, the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation had announced a new medal dedicated to the first Israeli astronaut.

The medal will now become a remembrance medal, spokesperson Janny Hamoi said. The medal was designed by artist Aharon Shabo, who chose to integrate a verse from Psalms in it: "His excellency is over Israel, And his strength is in the skies."

12:57:47 PM    

Also from bene_diction:

If you have been watching the CBC coverage and heard a remark about American 'arrogance' (I didn't) you can contact the CBC Ombudsman.
via Instapundit
Update:Ranting and Roaring is also watching CBC and like me, has not heard any inappropriate comments at this time. He is also covering all major media channels.
Daimnation has information on the CBC coverage.

12:49:19 PM    

ISS has three crew still on board...

And comments to Doc's blog indicate the soyuz may be the best way to bring them back.

12:38:31 PM    

The community speaks...

Receive a few emails from the page I put up to capture thoughts from the blog community.

Jay Manifold offers this quote from Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson.  His blog site has a picture from National Weather Service radar tracking the debris.

Dean Peters sends these thoughts:

Two more links/tributes to our fallen heros:

The former is of interest, as we focus on the crew. In fact, one of the people involved with blogs4God was going to interview the Columbia Commander after reading a blog about him.

From Bene_diction who notes:

Here you go....

I found a couple of Canadians covering this.

12:29:48 PM    

Somber Day...

I was (and still am) planning to take my kids to SciTrek (Atlanta's Science museum) to see the new Challenger Learning Center.  The visit will certainly be melancholoy now.  In fact, the Scitrek site has a message posted regarding Columbia:

SciTrek offers sincere sympathy to the families of the astronauts on the Columbia mission. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this very difficult time.

Our new Challenger Learning Center represents a tribute to the lives of the astronauts that perished in 1986. The families of the victims of that mission founded the Challenger organization to ensure that the world understood how their loved ones lived and why their passion for space exploration was unparalleled.


12:10:50 PM    

Slashdot  11:18 am  572 comments on this one less than 2 hours after news broke.  Unfortunately, some of the comments indicate poor taste.
11:22:13 AM    

Image link

11:17:33 AM    

Glenn Reynolds reports on Shuttle disaster

SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA is out of communication and lost from radar. It should have landed three minutes ago. At this point, it can only be presumed to have been lost on reentry. CNN has photos of it above Dallas, with no obvious problems.

Is there a connection with the presence of an Israeli astronaut? Probably not, but who knows?

UPDATE: Just saw CNN play the video from Dallas -- I was going earlier on something they had said that I guess I misunderstood -- and it looks as if it shows the Shuttle breaking up. A single trail breaks up into multiple vapor trails as it moves. They're gone. May they rest in peace.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the report. People have phoned CNN to report a "loud impact."

Here's Spaceflight Now's real-time update page. At the moment it notes

...ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, that didn't take long. Reportedly, a Canadian Broadcasting Company interviewer has blamed "American Arrogance" for the crash. Follow the link for more information, and a link to the CBC Ombudsman. I'll let you know if I find out more on this. []

11:13:14 AM    

The second lesson 
  I was going to get up and watch the Shuttle re-enter the atmosphere this morning, but forgot to set the alarm.
  Instead, a few minutes ago, I got a call from my sister, whose voice sounded just like it did when she called before dawn on September 11, 2001.
  Now I'm sitting here with a six year old boy who loves aviation and space travel, talking about what happened to Columbia, and how something so adventurous and wonderful could end so badly.
  It's been almost exactly seventeen years since the last Shuttle disaster. Not long afterwards I wrote Accidental Lessons: Reflections on the Challenger Tragedy.
  I'm sure we'll learn from this one too.
[Doc Searls Weblog]
11:07:23 AM    

Wow.  The Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]
11:06:43 AM