February 1st, 2013
12:37 PM ET

Remembering the Columbia disaster 10 years later

By James Dinan, CNN

I remember where I was when I learned of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy.

I was in a classroom on the campus of George Washington University in Washington that Saturday, February 1, 2003, volunteering as a reader for a college quiz bowl tournament - think a team version of “Jeopardy!” I was eating lunch with other staffers when the tournament director raced into our room. He apologized for running late but explained it was because he had just learned what happened to Columbia.

After briefly telling us what he had found out, he sent us with our question packets to the game rooms, where the teams were waiting. But before we left, the director asked that, before the first question was read, we let the players know about Columbia and allow a brief moment of silence for prayer and/or reflection.

I don’t remember much about that day after the tournament director’s announcement, and I doubt that many of the players and fellow staff do as well. Wins and losses didn’t really matter that Saturday as our minds were focused on the lives lost on Columbia.

Click on the above video to look back at CNN’s coverage of the Columbia tragedy and comment below on what you remember about that day.

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Rick Crockett

    I was the far west observer of the Columbia tragedy. I posted an excerpt of my experience on a FaceBook OBKargers. For nearly two months a friend and NASA employee debriefed me going over what I saw. I had dialed 911 to report a large aircraft coming down after catching fire and breaking up. My observatory was remote and I had no radio or TV. I had understood that the shuttle was supposed to have landed the day earlier and was not aware it had been delayed.

    This was a really tough time because I was asked more than once what I felt the astronauts had experienced in the last moments based on my observations. I still choke-up thinking about it, doubly so because I watched it from beginning to break-up. I saw the left wing come off and took it for the rudder of a 747. I reported to 911 as a conflict I was having with my own observations. I thought it was maybe a 747 that had been shot out of the sky but it was too high and moving too fast. It just didn't make sense. I even told 911 that it could have been some sort of spacecraft with the thought that Columbia was on the ground in Florida the day before. Then my friend from NASA told me the girl I was supposed to marry but she then disappeared for 25 years, had showed back up. She had become a nun.... I never married. If that isn't a confidence shaker.

    Then one day shortly after I was of no further use to NASA, two brothers come in wearing T-Shirts about the NASA recovery event counseling. I asked them if they had been part of the recovery teams and they said No! So I asked how they got to be part of the week long counseling and all expense first class accommodations and they told me a relative was the 911 operator and they heard her playing back a recording from the 911 caller and they were so emotionally disturbed by it that they were flown from Kern County California to Houston Texas as part of this big counseling program. I was that 911 caller and I still wake up screaming and forgotten....

    April 27, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  2. Chat line

    I have mastered some considerations through your blog post. One other point I would like to convey is that there are many games on the market designed specifically for preschool age youngsters. They incorporate pattern recognition, colors, creatures, and styles. These typically focus on familiarization rather than memorization. This keeps children engaged without having a sensation like they are learning. Thanks

    March 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Ron

    I remembered my wife's cousin as he was on our wedding day at our reception. It reminded me of how remiss we are at keeping n touch with friends and relatives (particularly those who are really impressive). I know Col. Husband really lived life to the fullest and died persuing his dream.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  4. j


    STS-1 – Kennedy Space Center Science and Technology ... science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/.../mission-sts... Jun 29, 2001 ... COLUMBIA (1): Pad 39-A (13): 1st Shuttle mission: 1st Flight OV-102 ... Sixteen tiles lost and 148 damaged. ... resulted in the loss of 16 heat shield tiles and damage to 148 others.

    Not sure if that's the flight question but I do remember images Of a contrail that look nothing like the control I saw that day.

    February 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  5. j

    There are so many things about that flight it's not funny. No EVA , pictures of missing tiles on TV screens and in the media

    February 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  6. Matthew Black

    Please take your bizzare ramblings elsewhere on this sad day.

    February 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • j

      I remember another sad dayAt a place where I used to work. At first I couldn't understand why everyone was listeningWatching TVAnd I thought it was a bad soap opera.

      It seems too much so I went back to the office and threw it up on the big screenIn full surround. The place where I used to work tell her to was goneBut not the Robin AppleZ"Hooray I thoughtAnd shared

      February 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
      • j

        The above post is in reference to tower two World Trade CenterPlace where I worked. And watched it was being built.

        February 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  7. j

    mysterious contrail california

    RAW VIDEO: Mysterious Contrail Off Calif. « CBS Los Angeles losangeles.cbslocal.com/.../exclusive-raw- ... Nov 9, 2010 ... What's your theory about the mystery missile launch that all of Southern California saw?

    The contrail I saw did not resemble any video footage reported. It looked exactly like the contrail the Columbia Shuttle left years prior, with the exception of its' orientation which was San Francisco bay area tapering towards Lancaster Edwards .

    Probably one of the USAF space shuttles never landing at Edwards Air Force Base. Lajka, Luna 24 and the ISS at ~200 miles above sea level (which is 99,800 miles inside our atmosphere) show the current lack of the scientific method for humans in outer space. Could someone please send a hungry for green cheese mouse or two to our Moon so we an place science back into human space exploration instead of cold war propaganda. We never landed on the moon with people, pets nor even a mouse that might like green cheese. Research Layka and Luna 24; Stop cold war propaganda and let's restart the scientific method for human space exploration.

    February 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • j

      BTW: the Space shuttle was the space vehicle. Slap on a couple boosters in my eyes; And Mars here we comewe come

      February 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
      • j

        With an umbrella over the heat shield and funky stuff in the cargo bay. Nassau hello

        February 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm |


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