generated in the descent.  Loss of controls and the structure of the wing then changed the angle of descent and the orientation of the protective tiles of the heat shield, and resulted in the breakup of the shuttle as it literally burned up at an altitude of about 200,000 feet and a speed of 12,500 mph.

There will be those who claim sabotage or terrorism, but this appears to be nothing more than a freak accident that now holds the nation's attention.  The explosion heard by and reported by many is nothing more than the normal sound barrier noise that routinely occurs on shuttle re-entry.  The shuttle is, after all, traveling at about Mach 18 or higher.  Sonic booms are occasionally so powerful that they actually break windows.

NASA now is indicating that there was an inordinate amount of drag on the left side of the shuttle which the automated controls were trying to correct for.  This is indicative of a loss of multiple tiles and an increasing friction load. 
Indications are that tiles were possibly peeling off as far back as California where at least one observer who was looking through a telescope at the shuttle reentry said that he observed pieces coming off the shuttle.  His reports were at first discounted, but now NASA is investigating that possibility as they search the path under the shuttle as it crossed California, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Interestingly, on closer analysis of the telemetric data, there are indications of problems showing up when Columbia was over California.

There will be much speculation in the weeks and months (even years) to come about what could have, should have, might have been done differently; but the truth of the matter appears to be that 80 seconds into the flight of Columbia the fate of the seven astronauts and their ship was already sealed.  The insulation, ice, or combination of the two that struck the underside of the left wing of Columbia damaged insulating tile(s) which upon reentry failed and caused an escalating event that lead to the tragic but unpreventable destruction of Columbia and her crew.

Investigation and analysis must proceed and all possibilities carefully scrutinized.  Perhaps, a solution for a future similar problem may be forth coming, but remember, there are always hazards in every day life and even more so in space travel.

There are no guarantees and sometimes accidents happen uncaused and unplanned by anyone, and not because of incompetence, stupidity, lack of money, terrorism, a devious government, or any other easy target of blame.  Sometimes, the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the worst case scenario happens.
In this time of national mourning of still another tragedy, our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the astronauts.  To the brave men and women of NASA and their families SALUTE!

Kirt Poovey, former gubernatorial candidate, firefighter, and business owner, is the author of Prophecy - 2024 - which can be purchased at He welcomes your comments at
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By Kirt R. Poovey

All indications at this time are that the space shuttle Columbia sustained damage to some of the heat shield tiles on the left wing at takeoff from a piece of insulation that broke loose from the main fuel tank and struck the wing.  While a single missing tile is not critical, upon entering the atmosphere severe turbulence of supersonic velocities occur around the spaceship.

At this point it seems that additional tiles were stripped off in this "shake, rattle, and roll" portion of the descent which caused a structural compromise of the wing from the massive heat