2003 February 1

(entry last updated: 2003-02-01 13:35:45)

Press briefing taking place now. A 3:00 PM briefing where questions will be taken was announced. (Spaceflight Now continues to update)

Very large JPG (poster) for STS-107 with images of astronauts.

According to NPR, NASA has lowered their flags to half-staff, indicating that they believe the Columbia astronauts are lost. – 11:06AM

Space Shuttle missing (updated CNN report w/ images) (STS-107; status reports) – now saying it was seen breaking up. It was supposed to have landed at 9:16 and communication has been lost.

Listening to NPR – Columbia is the oldest flying shuttle. Also the heaviest, thus considered the best glider. NASA mission statusKennedy Space Center WWW page with a brief statement

The last communications with Columbia took place at about 9 a.m. EST. Contingency procedures have been activated and Dallas- Fort Worth search and rescue operations have been initiated. No additional information is available at this time…

Reports that multiple contrails have been seen – apparently breaking up (see the picture at the CNN link above). Debris has been falling in parts of central Texas.

Slashdot has the story now – should have more resources, including this disheartening image. Instapundit cites this evocative radar image – the radar loop for the time period is even more striking, although I would guess that this would be typical, given the plasma generated during re-entry. On the other hand, the persistence of the image suggests this is particulate debris

Here’s the NYTimes lead – and a supplemental Texas report

SpaceflightNow has status updates – an excellent resource; looks like by 9:06AM EST it was VERY clear there was trouble