With only eleven minutes remaining after 16 days of successful scientific work, the spaceship Columbia began to break apart. Communication was lost and so were the lives of the seven astronauts. Pieces of the shuttle were scattered across Texas and Louisiana while a fireball lit the sky during the final moments for seven heroes of NASA's space program.
The astronauts set off on their mission on January 16, 2003. Everything went smoothly and the crew completed more than 80 experiments in orbit. It was the first flight for four of the explorers - William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. The other crew members were Rick Husband, Michael Anderson and Kalpana Chawla.
Those people went to space to research and explore for our future, knowledge and possibly for a new place to live. Their mission included the transportation of parts for the International Space Station.
NASA says they had no sign that anything was wrong. Everything seemed fine except for a few small malfunctions. The only problem was the displacement of heat tiles as the shuttle took off. Even the last radio communication seemed fine. When NASA notified Husband of the malfunction of the instruments, he responded calmly, saying, "Roger, uh huh," and then the radio went silent. Four minutes later, the shuttle exploded.
The reason for the explosion is still unclear. Those seven astronauts are heroes because they were in space for us. The space shuttle was a sign of American pride along with its people. I think the heroes of the Col-umbia space shuttle should be honored because they gave their lives for us and our future.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.