Breaking News: Space Shuttle Feared Lost

On BBC World and CNN theres news breaking that the US Space Shuttle "Colombia" is in problems and possibly lost with all crew. Shuttle commander Rick D. Husband, Pilot William C. McCool, Payload Commander Michael P. Anderson, Mission Specialists David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, were on board.

The Columbia was the oldest of the Shuttle fleet, built in 1979. Below is a picture courtesy of CNN that shows debris from what can only be the shuttle itself. NASA has dispatched Search & Rescue in the Dallas area. NASA says a loud "bang" or impact could be heard as the shuttle re-entered Earth's Atmosphere, Re-entry is the hardest part of the mission where there is no margin for error.

We will bring you more as the story unfolds; Click "Read more" for a diagram and quick summary of events.

Update: Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force and former fighter pilot, became the first man from his country to fly in space, and his presence resulted in an increase in security, not only for Columbia's January 16 launch, but also for its landing.

Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

View: CNN: Space shuttle loses contact

View: BBC: Nasa loses contact with shuttle

View: Google News Stories

Update: The Space Shuttle has been lost to NASA, with the agency saying it "fears for the worst" after losing touch with the Shuttle 200,000 miles above Texas this morning.

Seven astronauts are on board.

The spacecraft was due for a sheduled landing at 2.16 GMT. There are unconfirmed reports that "multiple tails" or vapour trails were seen coming from the craft as it was descending over the US.

A NASA spokeswoman said that "we have lost contact with the vehicle and the crew. I am sure that NASA is mobilising in the Dallas area. (Source: Sky News)

Update: NASA, while not saying the shuttle had exploded, broken up or crashed, warned that any debris found in the area should be avoided and could be hazardous. (Source: CNN)

Update: This is the most serious incident involving a shuttle since the 1986 crash of the space shuttle Challenger, which carried seven astronauts. Pres. Reagan cancelled the State of the Union address in 1986 on hearing about the Challenger disaster. The President [Bush] is expected to make an announcement shortly

Update: One video scene shows what looks like debris falling to earth. It is feared that the Shuttle broke up on entry to the Earth's atmosphere when it would be travelling at 12,500mph.

Video: Columbia breaking up in atmosphere (Sky News)

Update: Janet Smith-Bozart, who was driving near Dallas, saw what is believed to be the shuttle?s descent and described it to MSNBC. ?I thought at first it might be a meteor coming into the atmosphere and then I realized it was much too big and much too slow for that,? she said. ?Essentially the entire thing just broke apart and the whole thing just disappeared. ... Eventually it just sort of faded and there was no more contrail or anything.?Explosions were widely reported across Texas.?It was like a car hitting the house or an explosion. It shook that much,? John Ferolito, 60, of Carrolton, north of Dallas, told the Associated Press. (MSNBC)

Update: Although this is un-confirmed Sky News just reported from a phone interview that the cause might have been due to the rear tail (the fin at the back of the air-craft) coming off, and causing the subsequent disaster.

Update: There has been no official confirmation of the disaster. Nasa lost touch with the shuttle above Texas. A Nasa spokesman said: "It appears there has been a catastrophic technical failure." It was the 113th shuttle mission. (Sky News)

A Bush administration spokesman said the shuttle's altitude -- over 200,000 feet -- made it "highly unlikely" that the shuttle fell victim to a terrorist act. Police in Nacogdoches, Texas, reported "numerous pieces of debris" both inside the city limits and in Nacogdoches County. Sowell said officers and city and county employees were being dispatched to stand by the debris until the arrival of FBI and NASA representatives. The debris field is believed to be very large. (CNN)

Update: Reports are coming in about debris including some found on Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston. Debris from the craft fell in Texas and Oklahoma with one report saying a large piece hit a Texan bank. (Sky News)

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11 Comments

I cant help wondering how this would happen with the first public woman in space (Challenger, 1986) and now the high profile first Israeli - maybe its just NASA bad luck, I mean these guys got us to the moon and we cut their funding in favour of Nuclear weapons and arms.

More proof of how some can be insensitive arseholes. Some of the comments made here are sickening. I should ban the lot of you.

ok, No this isn't a public service, you dont have the freedom of speech as laid out in the American consitution because this is an Internet site not a public or paid service. and to prove that the staff and admin decide what is allowed here and what not vader- has lost his account, because at 2 posts already accusing our staff of tactics unbecoming of this site is not the type of person we want here anyway.

Alot of you need to grow up look at the damn post here and the way some of you have commented I am truly ashamed of you. You make me sick and its comments like these that make heavier moderation even more appealing.

[neoquote=#43.4 by BudMan]They do have the right to attempt to express their thoughts, but maybe a simple IQ test could be used in the signup proccess. You know, something simple like having to score above your own age. This would weed out most of the people making such comments.[/neoquote]
ok on the first point, [b]No they don't[/b] we have laid out rules that members must abide by, dis-allowing certain topics such as circumvention/warez discussion and not allowing victimization and hateful posts takes away your "freedom of speech"

Freedom of Speech in the context you put it probably is very hard to come by, because even in "free western countries" you do not have total freedom of speech even if you think you do.

As for the IQ test scoring, most people who are quite intelligent have proven in this thread they lack the [b]social skills[/b] to succesfully participate in a thread without offending other members who know better "what can be said, and whats best left unsaid" So my point is, IQ doesn't prove your alright, alright?

The last point I want to make, drop it now. I'm done explaining - if you can't accept my reply you will PM me as this is off topic enough.

I feel very sad for the crew and their family. And the part I find the saddest is that the space shuttle went into trouble not long before landing too. I also feel very bad for the Indian born woman.. a Ph. D. earned astronaut(I have some Indian blood in me too) and she was the most experienced astronaut onboard. What a tragic loss I still wish and feel like there is hope. My deepest sorrow and prayers to the crew and their families.

This is a sad day indeed. Such brave people lost so soon. However, we should try to look at what is happening, if only for a short time. Americans, Israelis, some Palestinians and the rest of the world with the exception of Iraq are united in mourning the loss of these 7 amazing people. May their deaths not be in vain, but rather, let them be martyrs for a greater cause to unite and bring together a world torn apart by hate and destruction.

[neoquote=#108.1 by JHAres]Ermmm.... "some" Palestinians and the iraqui people are not in the human race...??? There are wrong and bad people all around the world and in each country, but they are not less humans for that... Think in your own last phrase mate: [b]a greater cause to unite and bring together a world torn apart by hate and destruction[/b]... :disappoin [/neoquote]
I simply said that because there were reoprts of the Iraqi nation celebrating and saying how its revenge from God and the Palestinians I assumed wouldn't care as much although they did send their condolences, so I was wrong about the Palenstinians. The only reasons I would exclude Iraq though is through an incorrect generlaization on my part. Those affiliated with Sadam were celebrating. I am sorry.

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