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Columbia Disaster Coverage: Resources, Story Ideas and More (Many useful links - FR MENTIONED!)
PoynterOnline ^ | February 2, 2003 | Al Tompkins

Posted on 02/03/2003 5:41:09 AM PST by Timesink

Posted, Feb. 1, 2003
Updated, Feb. 2, 2003

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster Coverage
Resources, Story Ideas and More

By Al Tompkins

Shuttle Links and Overview

New bug
WFAA's coverage includes an extensive webpage with video, slideshows, online user feedback pages and a "what witnesses saw" page, as well, at

New bug
See an online shuttle enthusiasts' blog on FreeRepublic, which tracked the re-entry of the Columbia before during and after the incident:   

This is such a remarkable way that the online experience sews together people in times like this.

New bug
Some newspapers, such as the Washington Post, are allowing online readers to share their thoughts:

Many sites did this after the 9-11 attacks. It turns the web into a big gathering place, which could be especially important on the weekend when people are not surrounded by others as they would be in a workplace.

New bug
Here is a magnificent collection of Sunday's editorial cartoons from Daryl Cagle's Index:

First published information:
Monitor many websites at once on 1st Headlines at

WFAA-TV Dallas' video of the debris streaking across the sky can be viewed at

A listing of all police agencies in Texas could be a valuable resource for debris location. It's at

A Nacogdoches, Texas, newspaper website ( shows debris found in that county. It's the first picture of debris -- posted at 12:14 EST -- I have seen on the web.

A listing of all Texas Newspaper websites and Television websites is at

Orlando Sentinel's breaking news coverage is at

Florida Today is keeping a weblog of information and statements that is very useful at

You can receive live Shuttle Communications at
 via RealAudio. This is Houston Mission Control's live audio. There will be long delays between transmissions from Mission Control. Just minimize the window and keep it running if you want/need to monitor developments. Do us all a favor and don't have all of your newsroom computers running this.

The Crew
Photos and background of the crew are at The sites includes interviews with each crew member while they were in space on this mission. It's certainly worth linking to at

The seven members of this diverse crew on the missing shuttle Columbia included four space rookies:

Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon -- bio at
William McCool -- bio at
David Brown -- bio at
Laurel Clark -- bio at

Veteran crew members included:
Rick Husband -- bio at
Kalpana Chawla -- bio at;
background from Asian American Journalists Association at
Mike Anderson -- bio at

More sources on the crew:,2933,77254,00.html

Mission information
You can find background on STS 107 from NASA here: has special coverage, including mission pictures. A NASA press kit backgrounder and information on STS 107 is at

Background on the Space Station -- including a 3D view -- is at

NASA TV online is at

Shuttle radio transmissions online (this is a file, not live) is at

Here is a master list of all of the experiments on board STS 107: If you are near a research university, you should check this extensive list to see if you had any experiments on this flight:

I see experiments listed from Columbus, Ohio; Louisiana; Italy; Germany; Amsterdam; Paris; Canada; Harvard University; Alabama; Colorado; Maryland. There are many more. There are some interesting experiments from school students including an ant experiment from a high school in Syracuse and a silk work experiment from a 5th-grader in China.

Here are some stats about this mission:
This was the 113th for the space shuttle program since flights began on April 12, 1981. It was the 88th mission since the 1986 explosion of Challenger. For Columbia, the oldest orbiter in NASA's fleet, this was its 28th flight.

Here is a log of events for STS 107:
This is a minute-by-minute log of the mission schedule:

What happened? has a great explainer about space shuttles at: It includes information, like this: "It is possible to hold a space shuttle tile by the edge and then heat up the center of the tile with a blow torch. The tile insulates so well that no heat makes it out to the edges."

The tiles have been a problem for the shuttle since before the first flight. There are several theories about something having hit some of the tiles upon liftoff. Another possiblity is that the shuttle came back into earth's orbit at an improper angle. Here is a very good question and answer on how shuttles land:

IRE, the Investigative Reporters and Editors association, has a terrific resource page online at to help you find and investigate other parts of the shuttle story. For example, IRE is pulling together a list of contractors on shuttle flights. The IRE and NICAR Data Library has compiled data regarding NASA contracts for fiscal years 1992-2001. As reported, space shuttles have been through several renovation projects over the years. Among other things, the data shows the company, including location, and the amount involved. It also includes general descriptions of the type of work. For basic information about the federal contracts database, go to:

For each fiscal year, NASA records 10,000 to 11,000 contracts for a large variety of work. To obtain the data, contact the Data Library at 573-884-7711.

Graphics/Information Graphics
Special thanks to Paul Nixon for his help collecting these

Space Shuttle Columbia Breaks Up Over Texas:
(Graphic, Reuters via Yahoo! News )
Photo Montage:
(Flash, Washington Post)
STS-107 Quick-Look Mission Facts and Figures: (HTML Table, Space Flight Now)
Shuttle Timeline 1981-2002: (Interactive Timeline, MSNBC)
Space Shuttle Orbiter:
(Flash, The Guardian)
Milestones in Space Shuttle History:
(Interactive Timeline, CNN)
Shuttle Flight from Re-entry to Touchdown:
(Interactive Graphic, CNN)

Radar images
A radar image of the debris field can be found here:

Weather radar shows debris field: (Image, Houston Chronicle)

Here is a radar picture at the time of the reentry:
(the debris scatters across the screen)

A nation chronicles, mourns
The Internet is an important resource for events like this.
Serious web bloggers collect and chronicle events, like this one at

The Internet also becomes a place where, especially on weekends, the world can collect around a sort of electronic hearth and collectively grieve. Chat boards and postings are building on all sorts of sites, including Beliefnet's prayer circles at

International coverage
The Jerusalem Post is aggressively covering the story at
with special attention to Ramon.

Historical perspective
Coverage from Jan. 28, 1986, the day the Challenger exploded upon liftoff:

New bug
Here is the actual Rogers Commission report, which was the investigation of the Challenger explosion:
This is their page of recommendations:

More in this series:

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Announcements; Free Republic; Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: columbia; poynter; shuttle; sts107
(Emphases mine.) is arguably the biggest journalist's hangout on the web. This mention means that half the editors in the country might be checking us out! :)
1 posted on 02/03/2003 5:41:09 AM PST by Timesink
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To: Timesink
ing for a good find.
2 posted on 02/03/2003 5:56:13 AM PST by McGruff (Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.)
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To: Timesink; Jim Robinson
OK People, there has GOT TO BE more sources of Income for FR- Can't we put our heads together and come up with suggestions? the most useless site on the planet, gets mentioned regularly in the 'elite media' - when they have practically no assets and their heads up their ar$e$...

-Corporate sponsorship?
-Links from/to a news channel( FOX would be nice)
-Should FR launch its OWN cable news channel with links to the site? Anyone want to invest in that?

JR I would like to volunteer time to help in any way.

3 posted on 02/04/2003 7:17:16 AM PST by Mr. K (all your (OPTIONAL TAG LINE) are belong to us)
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To: Timesink
Bummer ... the FReeplinks aren't valid!!!

"Document Not Found
Sorry, the requested document does not exist on this server. "

4 posted on 02/04/2003 4:06:36 PM PST by NonValueAdded ("... yet we can pray that all are safely home (GWB)")
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To: NonValueAdded
the FR link at the top is good

the links at the bottom are relative links, and when cut and pasted to FR no longer work
5 posted on 02/04/2003 4:16:14 PM PST by fnord (aint it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?)
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To: Timesink
great resource, btw
6 posted on 02/04/2003 4:16:37 PM PST by fnord (aint it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?)
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To: fnord
Ya know if a helicopter with 7 army troops crashed somewhere tomorrow you would be hard pressed to find one story about it in your local news. Let alone multiple articles. This story makes me sick. Go into outer space is highly dangerous. They knew the risks. they took them and sorry but they died. It's not like they lay on a cold battle field bleeding to death from shrapnel wounds. Where this people brave yes, but Heros not a chance. Heros fight in wars. They get shot at, they spend months even years station away from their home and loved one.
7 posted on 02/04/2003 8:26:00 PM PST by sharkdiver
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To: fnord; NonValueAdded
the links at the bottom are relative links, and when cut and pasted to FR no longer work

Oops. Sorry about this. I usually fix relative links (which ought to be BANNED, grrrr), but I forgot to this time. If you want to open any of those links, just replace the "" part of the URL with "".

8 posted on 02/04/2003 10:44:08 PM PST by Timesink
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To: sharkdiver
I agree with you ...

Many times this number die on the highways each day. Military, firefighters, local police, etc. have caualties every day, without the fanfare.

I think the facts that these were nominally civilians doing dramatic things, coupled with the televised nature of their demise, is what makes it have more impact.

I find it (still) a captivating news item, but not as emotionally moving as many others seem to find it.

I am career military, and there have been times when we lost people, more so through accident than combat. In every case we might mourn privately for a short while, but publicly at least we moved on with our missions, however mundane. I bet the astronaut fraternity is likewise stoic and professional, and would prefer to 'move on' without the media circus we have been seeing.

Sorry for the long reply; in sum, I agree with you.
9 posted on 02/05/2003 1:21:57 PM PST by fnord (aint it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?)
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To: leadpenny
Here's your Thread being mentioned......

10 posted on 02/05/2003 1:27:53 PM PST by deport
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To: deport
Pretty cool. Thanks. FR is getting some positive publicity out of this.
11 posted on 02/05/2003 1:41:03 PM PST by leadpenny
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: John Jamieson; DoughtyOne; RaceBannon; Jael
Good source ping.
13 posted on 02/05/2003 8:55:07 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Timesink; Fred Mertz
14 posted on 02/05/2003 8:57:30 PM PST by TLBSHOW (God Speed as Angels trending upward dare to fly Tribute to the Risk Takers)
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To: Black Agnes
Thanks very much!!!
15 posted on 02/05/2003 11:19:33 PM PST by Jael
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To: Timesink
Excellent job, thank you.
16 posted on 02/05/2003 11:23:20 PM PST by Jael
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To: Black Agnes
Thank you for the ping. Nice.
17 posted on 02/06/2003 6:42:49 AM PST by DoughtyOne (Freeper Caribbean Cruise May 31-June 6, Staterooms As Low As $610 Per Person For Entire Week!)
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