NASA marked the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on Friday, recalling the day that the shuttle disintegrated during re-entry.
Linda Steed recalled the incident. A small dot in the sky streaked across the sky, but the streak thickened and turned into several smaller ones.
CNN reports that Steed also heard the sound, something she called “a big, rolling boom.” That massive boom signaled the Columbia breaking apart as well as the end of all seven astronauts on board.
NASA marked the anniversary of the crew’s death with tributes to them as well as 10 other astronauts who died in two previous fatal accidents — the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Apollo 1’s launch pad fire.
NASA’s Mission Control lost contact with the Space Shuttle Columbia at 8:59 am ET. Evelyn Husband, whose husband Rick was the shuttle’s commander, feared the worst. She recalled:
“I remember looking up at the sky and thinking, ‘Is that it? Is that the end of Rick’s life?’ “
Wayne Hale, a retired shuttle program manager, stated, according to USA Today, “All of a sudden we realized things were not as they were supposed to be. We were in a state of shock, quite frankly.”
NASA is marking the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster anniversary with low-key ceremonies in Texas and Florida. Some of the crew’s family members are participating.
Those lost in the disaster were Commander Rick Husband, co-pilot William McCool, specialists Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, David Brown, and Ilan Ramon (an Israeli fighter pilot).
President Obama issued a statement regarding the Columbia’s anniversary, saying:
“Ten years ago, seven brave astronauts gave their lives in the name of exploration when America’s first flight-ready space shuttle, Columbia, failed to return safely to Earth.”
The Columbia disaster occurred on February 1. The Apollo fire happened on January 27, and The Challenger explosion happened on January 28. The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster caused the shuttle program to be put on hold for two years.