Remembering Columbia a decade after its demise
Bosses don't call on Saturday morning unless something is really, really wrong.
And it truly was on February 1, 2003.
My WKTI program director, Bob Walker, was on the other end of the line. His message cut through my sleepy haze: NASA lost the space shuttle Columbia on re-entry, and things didn't look good.
Soon came the video of bright, burning objects plummeting in the Texas sky, punctuating the doomed shuttle's fate bit by firery bit. Seven astronauts would die, including Racine's Laurel Clark. As sad as the Columbia tragedy was, it packed a local tie. Much had been made beforehand about Clark's role on the mission. The disaster now bore a Wisconsin connection.
Much happened in the decade since. We'd get the answer as to what went wrong. NASA's culture would change, missions would resume before the shuttle program came to an end. Some wonder if we should return to space. Almost everyone worries about the cost.
Clark's husband was part of the Columbia investigation and has moved on, as best as could be expected. He and his son are subjects of an AP article detailing how those left behind are dealing with the tragedy a decade later.