The Space Shuttle Columbia has been lost, and all seven astronauts aboard were killed – including Col. Ilan Ramon of the IDF, Israel’s first astronaut to fly into space.
This is a horrible tragedy that is simply beyond words. Everyone is in shock, glued to CNN or a host of sources for updates and information. Every so often, there is a news item that is so shocking that it disrupts the world and pulls us away from our daily lives. This is one of them. My heart goes out to the families of the seven astronauts aboard.
I was out skiing all day and wasn’t able to blog this earlier, but I will be following this for the next while as the news develops.
I have to admit, though, that when I first heard the news, my reaction was denial. I thought it was a practical joke. My next thought was that terrorism was involved – admit it, it flashed through your mind too. Especially considering the presence of Col. Ramon. And when I heard that reports of debris were coming from a town called Palestine, Texas, well, I had to shake my head with amazement at that particular coincidence. Officials, however, have found no evidence of terrorism at work here so far. And frankly, once I started thinking straight, I don’t see how there possibly could be.
World leaders have offered their condolences to the families of the astronauts, to the United States, and to Israel. These include the Pope, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, EU Commission President Romano Prodi, French President Jacques Chirac, and even the Palestinian Authority issued a statement. Although this is truly disgusting: In a statement about the Columbia disaster, Iraq called it “God’s punishment of America”.
President Bush addressed the American people and pledged that the space program would continue despite the tragedy.
Today will go down in history.