February 2003
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the space shuttle Columbia1,2,3 Blast Off
By Nira Diamant, SNN Editor, Tec-Voc School, Winnipeg, MB

On February 1st 2003, almost 17 years after the Challenger Shuttle exploded, 7 astronauts completing a 16-day mission died when their shuttle, the Columbia, went into flames over Texas, just before landing into Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Columbia's crew The crew consisted of 6 Americans and one Israeli. Kalpana Chawla was on the mission. She was the first Indian to go into space. Laurel Clark joined NASA in 1996 and was a medical doctor. Rick Husband was the Astronaut commander. Ilan Ramon was the Israeli aboard the shuttle. The other members on the crew were Michelle Anderson, David Brown and William MCcool.

There was not a lot of hype before the mission, but initially United States President George Bush was linking the explosion to terrorism. Nicole Bouchard, a teacher at Tec-Voc High School feels that this accident is not linked in any way. "I don't think this is linked to terrorism because there was not a lot of hype before the Space Shuttle took off. Each time astronauts go into space they take a big risk."

On January 28th, 1986 the Challenger exploded during take off. NASA decided not to fly a space shuttle for 32 months after that incident. Some feel that NASA should not go into space again because it's an unnecessary risk you don't need to take and others feel the complete opposite. Bouchard feels that if NASA sent out another space shuttle after the Challenger explosion there is no reason why NASA should stop after this tragedy.

Sean O'Keefe of NASA told reporters that there is no proof yet that this was linked to Terrorism. "At this time we have no indication that the mishap was caused by anyone or anything on the ground."

Israelis are grieving the loss of what Ariel Sharon told Bush in a phone conversation was Israelis' very own hero. Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli from Jerusalem to go into space. His mom was also a hero. She was a holocaust survivor from the Awswitch concentration camp.

Just 17 years after the Challenger exploded, this horrific tragedy ended the lives of 7 brave astronauts. A crew with lots of skilled and talented individuals. For those who remember when the Space Shuttle exploded in 1986, let this time be a time for grieving and a time for remembering the brave souls who risked their lives to take a challenge hoping to fulfill their dream and make the most out of life.


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