US President, George W. Bush, 14:04 EST, February 1, 2003
At 10:39 EST, on 16 January 2003, 6 years ago, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched from Launch Complex 39A of the Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida.
Designated STS107 and comprising 7 astronauts including Kalpana Chawla, Columbia embarked on what was a 16 day multi-disciplinary microgravity and Earth science research mission with a multitude of international scientific investigation programs on-board. Tragically, the Columbia and its passengers never returned, disintegrating upon re-entry on February 1, 2003.
Commander Rick Husband, Pilot William McCool, Mission Specialist David Brown, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Payload Commander & Mission Specialist Michael Anderson, Mission Specialist Laurel Clark and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon lost their lives in the tragedy.
February 1, 2003, I remember was an unusually cold day in Ooty. I had returned from an evening walk at about 8pm and lost no time cuddling up in a warm blanket in front of the television when BBC brought up the story and the video showing the burning space shuttle over Texas. I was in shock and yelled for my folks to come to the television. Today, 6 years later I remember these souls along with the track that was used to pay tributes to them, sung in 2001 by Josh Groban, titled To Where you are!
Who can say for certain, Maybe you're still here, I feel you all around me, Your memory, so clear
Josh Groban - To Where you are
Image Courtesy: NASA, STS-107 Shuttle Mission Imagery
Spaceflight now: Re-entry Conversation Transcripts