The space shuttle Columbia soared
skyward from Houston on January 16, 2003.
Saturday, February 1, 2003, minutes before its scheduled landing at Cape Canaveral, Columbia disintegrated while travelling 12,500 mph, 200,000 feet above Texas. The wing temperature was 3,000 degrees F.
All seven astronauts perished. They included two women and Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space.
Yesterday, Sunday, January 2, 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle headline said: "Columbia Is Lost."
But Columbia is not all lost.
Read a Chronicle front page article by Robert Salladay ( RSalladay@sfchronicle.com ) is titled: "We need the view from space," on the Web at:
Salladay describes how there is a "transforming gift" of the space program that goes unnoticed.
And how the view of Earth from space is unifying, sensitizing for us humans.
"I was terrified by its fragile appearance, " said German astronaut during a 1988 flight.
In "A Pale Blue Dot," Carl Sagan eloquently wrote how the photos of Earth brought home by our Apollo astronauts put Earth before us, with "incontestable evidence that we all share the same vulnerable planet."
Salladay reminds us that "America has slowly tried to take politics and national boundaries out of space science" and that part of our space program has been "one American effort to unite the world."
Aboard Columbia's last voyage, almost unnoticed, was a stunning, cooperative biological experiment of two students -- a Palestinian and an Israeli.
Joining forces were Tariq Adwan, a Palestinian biology student, and Yuval Landau, an Israeli medical student. The story is on the Web at:
Additional photos are at http://www.planetary.org/gobbss/images.html , a the students' biographies at http://www.planetary.org/gobbss/bios.html .
Up-to-date information can be obtained from one of the project's inspirations and coordinators, David Warmflash, MD ( AstroBio2001@yahoo.com ).
The box containing the cooperative
Israeli-Palestinian student experiment may have been found among the debris
strewn across Texas. Time will tell.
While experimental components returned to Earth, their exact identity and condition has yet to be verified.
We heard from Florida by phone yesterday morning, from Dr. Eran Schenker, Director of Arab Israeli Space Medicine.
He said that the while extreme heat would have changed the conditions of the experiment, this historic, cooperative investigation may (if the box is theirs and intact and sealed) yet give us new knowledge of our shared origins and how we came to be.
Already Tariq and Yuval, with Eran
and David and others, are demonstrating even more -- what we are becoming.
More cooperative. Seeing Earth from space -- whole, delicate, one. Becoming more human, together.
Look for their feature story in The Jerusalem Post Magazine this Friday, February 7, 2003 at: