My Son Jeff's Story of the Columbia

by Jeff Brooks, age 12

The Columbia was the first SPACE SHUTTLE which was launched in 1981.  It was the first space shuttle built in America.  I was reading the Time and Newsweek magazines and the newspaper and I turned to a page in the Newsweek magazine and it showed the heat resistant tiles on the bottom of the space ship.  It said that on a space shuttle's re-entry to earth the front nose cone and the lead edges on the left and right wings are the parts of the shuttle that get the most damage when the shuttle re-enters the earth and those are the parts that have to have the heat resistant tiles or the shuttle would blow up.  When they launched on January 16, 2003, people said they caught a quick glimpse of a piece of foam that was supposed to secure the EXTERNAL FUEL TANK to the space shuttle itself.  NASA thought that it would not be a problem during orbit.  It wasn't until they were re-entering when it was a problem because on lift-off the foam that hit the left wing damaged several heat tiles.  They started peeling away from the shuttle and that caused all the heat sensors in the left wing to fail.  They were 40 miles (200,000 feet) above the earth and traveling at 12,500 miles per hour.  When the temperature was 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit the shuttle broke apart over three states, parts of TEXAS, LOUISIANA AND ARKANSAS.  You could just see debris falling out of space.  NASA lost contact with Columbia at 9:00 eastern time.  It was scheduled to land in FLORIDA 15 minutes after it blew up.  It was a very horrible thing that happened but we want to comfort the families of the seven astronauts and we know that the seven astronauts are in heaven now and will be remembered forever.

(Freehand drawing of Columbia by Jeff Brooks, age 12.)

Return to