Here’s what happened.
Space activities may not seem as exciting to average citizens as they used to, but we should never forget that they are just as dangerous. Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated with crew aboard during its landing attempt, on February 1, 2003. Ground eyewitnesses reported that Columbia’s burning debris resembled daytime meteors. Mike Luckovich, editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, captured those haunting images of “falling stars” in his visual tribute.
Here’s why it matters.
Atlanta has an even closer connection to another space tragedy. On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in midair just minutes after takeoff. One of its crew was astrophysicist Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D.
An Atlanta area school is one of the buildings and programs throughout the nation that bears Dr. McNair’s name. Carl S. McNair, his brother, is the founder and leader of the McNair Achievement Programs (MAP) and McNair Foundation, which are both based in Atlanta. McNair science honors programs are offered at over 180 U.S. colleges and universities, including Morehouse, and McNair’s alma maters, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A & T) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The last Space Shuttle flight landed safely on July 21, 2011. But robot spacecrafts continue to explore Earth’s neighboring planets and our solar system’s outer boundaries.
Here’s an interesting fact!
Space exploration still inspires the imagination. During his campaign for USA president in 2012, Newt Gingrich expressed a vision for missions to other planets with human crews and colonizing the Moon.