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Astronomer saw shuttle apparently in trouble over California
San Diego Union Tribune ^ | 02/01/03 | John Antczak

Posted on 02/01/2003 2:25:26 PM PST by socal_parrot

By John Antczak
ASSOCIATED PRESS

12:03 a.m., February 1, 2003

LOS ANGELES – Space shuttle Columbia appeared to begin trailing fiery debris as it passed over Eastern California early Saturday, well before its destruction over Texas, according to a California Institute of Technology astronomer who witnessed its fiery transit.

Anthony Beasley observed the shuttle's re-entry from outside his home in Bishop, Calif., near Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory, where he is project manager of the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy.

"As it tracked from west to east over the Owens Valley it was leaving a bright trail. As it actually moved over the valley there were a couple of flashes. ... Then we could see there were things clearly trailing the orbiter subsequent to that," Beasley said.

Beasley said he, his wife, Anne, and mother-in-law, Anne Finley, had gone outside in the early morning darkness to watch the re-entry from the small town 225 miles north of Los Angeles. He said the sky was clear and dark, and the shuttle was immediately visible when it cleared the Sierra Nevada peaks to the west of Bishop.

He said he had never witnessed a shuttle re-entry before and is not an authority on shuttles, but he immediately thought Columbia was having problems.

"In particular, there was one very clear event where there was a piece that backed off the orbiter. ... It was giving off its own light, then it slowly fell from visibility," he said.

Beasley said he thought the shuttle might be losing some of the heat-resistant tiles that protect it during the fiery re-entry. He said he did not learn of the shuttle's destruction until he went to the observatory and compared notes with two news photographers who had arranged to photograph the re-entry through a telescope.

Beasley said they compared notes and all agreed they had seen what he termed "the bright event, the third event."

"The analogy, I think, is it looked like the shuttle dropped a flare," he said.

He described the scene again: "Pretty soon after we started to see it track there were brief flashes of light. It would sort of flash a little bit and there was an indication of material trailing the orbiter. They would sort of disappear from view. ... That happened two or three times. One of these was very bright. It was a very clear thing. It separated itself from where the orbiter is. It sort of fell behind in the trail and it was burning itself. It was hot itself ... and then the orbiter continued heading toward Texas."


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: columbia; columbiatragedy; feb12003; nasa; spaceshuttle; sts107
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1 posted on 02/01/2003 2:25:26 PM PST by socal_parrot
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To: socal_parrot
They said during the NASA press conference that most likely what was seen over California is plasma, not shuttle parts.
2 posted on 02/01/2003 2:27:16 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (_*_)
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To: Keith in Iowa
The news conference referenced a viewing in Hawaii.
3 posted on 02/01/2003 2:28:34 PM PST by socal_parrot
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To: socal_parrot
"... compared notes with two news photographers who had arranged to photograph the re-entry through a telescope."


What?
Where are the photos!
Will a telescope be able to track something moving that fast?
4 posted on 02/01/2003 2:29:20 PM PST by Born to Conserve
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To: socal_parrot
We are going to be finding debris for years. How many seconds is it from CA to TX for the shuttle and how many states can see it all at once.?
5 posted on 02/01/2003 2:29:21 PM PST by Lady Jag (Googolplex Start Thinker of the Seventh Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity)
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To: socal_parrot
I hope the film they got helps solve the cause of this tradegy.
6 posted on 02/01/2003 2:29:29 PM PST by vger
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To: socal_parrot
However, they did say phenomena such as described in this article, and what was observed in Hawaii is common - plasma...
7 posted on 02/01/2003 2:29:46 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (_*_)
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To: Keith in Iowa
Yeah, but they hadn't heard the report, so they were clearly speaking off the cuff.
8 posted on 02/01/2003 2:30:11 PM PST by Vroomfondel
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To: socal_parrot
Bump
9 posted on 02/01/2003 2:31:20 PM PST by Fiddlstix (Tag Line Service Center: Get your Tag Lines Here! Wholesale! (Cheaper by the Dozen!) Inquire Within)
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To: socal_parrot
The trouble was reported here at FreeRepublic at 9:03 from a freeper from las Vegas.

here

It wasnt a glow that spread back like a comet but it must have been "on fire" because it was bright and big.


2/1/2003 9:03

10 posted on 02/01/2003 2:31:31 PM PST by TLBSHOW (God Speed as Angles trending upward dare to fly Tribute to the Risk Takers)
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To: Keith in Iowa
I should think plasma would leave a glowing trail, but I shouldn't think it would appear to fall away as described. This sounds like a pretty good witness.
11 posted on 02/01/2003 2:31:57 PM PST by Cicero
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To: Vroomfondel
And, they also said the point of maximum heat and pressure on re-entry was over Texas.
12 posted on 02/01/2003 2:34:36 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (_*_)
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To: Vroomfondel
Yeah, but they hadn't heard the report, so they were clearly speaking off the cuff.

I don't think the timing is right. If I got the sequence right from the NASA conference, there weren't any sensor problems until the Shuttle was over Texas.

Of course, they aren't even sure that the sensor problem is related to what destroyed the Shuttle.

13 posted on 02/01/2003 2:35:31 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: TLBSHOW
I live up in the Sierra Nevada mountains here in California and I went out with the kids this morning to watch the shuttle go by. It went by at around 5:55 - big fireball trailing its plume of smoke. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary as it went past. It is a very amazing sight. God rest the crew..
14 posted on 02/01/2003 2:37:30 PM PST by Chesterbelloc
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To: TLBSHOW
It was very irritating - the post here on FR stated a time of 4:48am, instead of 5:48am Pacific Time. I got up to look for it, but went back to bed.

I did hear the double sonic boom, I believe, and the rumble of its passage - it woke me up at least a little.
15 posted on 02/01/2003 2:38:32 PM PST by mvpel
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To: socal_parrot
This report and the Vegas report later in this thread make sense.

Temperature sensors started failing several (five, six, seven) minutes before loss of contact over Texas. At 12,000 miles an hour in five minutes we are talking 1,000 miles.
16 posted on 02/01/2003 2:40:41 PM PST by cgbg
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To: Joe Hadenuf
fyi...
17 posted on 02/01/2003 2:40:59 PM PST by Dog
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To: Born to Conserve
Will a telescope be able to track something moving that fast?

Yes.

18 posted on 02/01/2003 2:41:59 PM PST by thinktwice
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To: TLBSHOW
After watching the video umpteen times, but having never seen the shuttle in descent before, it's hard to tell if it's merely glowing when we first see it, and leaving a vapor trail, or if it's already combusted and trailing fire and smoke along with vapor.

It looks to me already burning when the video begins.

Then the burning becomes obvious and the shuttle begins to spin like a rifled bullet and then break apart 2-3 seconds later.

The fireball we see before breakup might be 300 yards across, and there were heroes in its center.

It's a terrible terrible sight, my eyes and heart are in pain.

19 posted on 02/01/2003 2:42:16 PM PST by jwfiv
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To: Vroomfondel
Yeah, but they hadn't heard the report, so they were clearly speaking off the cuff.

They hadn't seen the report, but they certainly have some information of their own. They had equiment of their own with more than a casual eye on the shuttle over California.

20 posted on 02/01/2003 2:43:33 PM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: Dog Gone
>If I got the sequence right from the NASA conference,
>there weren't any sensor problems until the Shuttle was >over Texas.

The shuttle is moving very fast. When they had the first sensor problem at 5:53 the shuttle was just north of San Francisco. From there it moved south of Lake Tahoe and was in Texas just a few minutes later. The schedule that I have had it actually touching down on the runway in Florida at 6:15:50 PST.
21 posted on 02/01/2003 2:43:39 PM PST by Chesterbelloc
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To: cgbg
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/833885/posts?page=

18
22 posted on 02/01/2003 2:44:06 PM PST by TLBSHOW (God Speed as Angles trending upward dare to fly Tribute to the Risk Takers)
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To: sciencediet
Judging from this live thread of FReepers watching the shuttle pass overhead, it took less than 10 minutes to get from California to Texas. The shuttle first noticed trouble at 8:53 Eastern time, the shuttle flew over San Francisco between 8:51 and 8:55 Eastern time.
23 posted on 02/01/2003 2:45:10 PM PST by socal_parrot
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To: Dog Gone
I wonder if there could have been a meteor hit the shuttle ---I saw a large meteor sometime during the night that streaked quite far down.
24 posted on 02/01/2003 2:47:03 PM PST by FITZ
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To: TLBSHOW
That is a chilling thread.
25 posted on 02/01/2003 2:49:02 PM PST by socal_parrot
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To: sciencediet
...trailing fiery debris as it passed over Eastern California early Saturday, well before its destruction over Texas...

I have a problem with this sentence. When you're going 20 times the speed of sound, going between California and Texas takes no time at all.

26 posted on 02/01/2003 2:50:05 PM PST by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: socal_parrot
That thread is history of this tragedy in live time as it happend. From my travelers on the net since I find no one else with this information. Add this account from Cal and the problem looks to me to of started way before Texas. Like it was on fire as it came in.
27 posted on 02/01/2003 2:50:50 PM PST by TLBSHOW (God Speed as Angles trending upward dare to fly Tribute to the Risk Takers)
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To: jwfiv; TLBSHOW
oops

I meant to say that it looks to me like the shuttle is glowing when the video begins, and then an intial explosion that changes the trail from vapor to smoke as it begins to burn, then the spin and real fire commences.

Hell, what do I know? I'm just shook up and trying to make sense of what I see.

That the astronauts' experience from beginning to their sudden end might only have been a few seconds gives me absolutely no comfort at all.

Bummin' here, big time...(

28 posted on 02/01/2003 2:51:12 PM PST by jwfiv
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
It must take mere seconds for the shuttle to pass from CA to TX and its altitude should allow millions a view. At that altitude a good portion of the globe was in their view.
29 posted on 02/01/2003 2:52:28 PM PST by Lady Jag (Googolplex Start Thinker of the Seventh Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity)
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To: jwfiv
That is so poignantly written.
30 posted on 02/01/2003 2:55:49 PM PST by ChemistCat (We should have had newer, safer, better, more efficient ships by now, damn it.)
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
The shuttle was traveling 200 miles a minute, 3.3 miles a second over Texas. It was traveling 280 miles a minute, 4.7 miles a second at initial de-orbit. First rrouble with sensors was first noticed at least 1400 miles before loss of com.
31 posted on 02/01/2003 2:56:17 PM PST by jlogajan
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To: Dog
Thanks dog, just found this.......
32 posted on 02/01/2003 3:02:19 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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To: Cicero
This sounds like a pretty good witness.

I agree, sounds pretty credible.

33 posted on 02/01/2003 3:05:11 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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To: jlogajan
The shuttle was traveling 200 miles a minute, 3.3 miles a second over Texas. It was traveling 280 miles a minute, 4.7 miles a second at initial de-orbit. First rrouble with sensors was first noticed at least 1400 miles before loss of com.

Wouldn't that put it over the coastal area of central California? Or further inland or east, like the Sierras?

34 posted on 02/01/2003 3:07:37 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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To: Keith in Iowa
They said during the NASA press conference that most likely what was seen over California is plasma, not shuttle parts.

And "they" also said that no one could possibly have seen missile contrials leading up to Flight 800...or no one could possibly have seen an explosion before the tail fell off of the flight that crashed in a New York neighborhood...

Just pointing out some previous "expert" poo pooing.

35 posted on 02/01/2003 3:07:55 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ()
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To: Chesterbelloc
I used to work at Edwards AFB and have witnessed a number of shuttle landings and I've never seen it as a fireball!
Every time I've seen it it was a white dot in the sky that fell like a rock and glided to a perfect landing.
I wonder if they were having problems over CA and you witnessed it?
36 posted on 02/01/2003 3:13:14 PM PST by patriot5186
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To: sciencediet
I saw posted and heard on the radio the shuttle was going about 12,500mph when it got into trouble.

12,500 / 60 = 208 miles per minute
208 / 60 = 3.47 miles per second

It is about 1500 miles from LA to Dallas.

1500 / 3.47 = 432 seconds
432 / 60 = 7.2 minutes to go from LA to Dallas. Lots of assumptions here and I hope my math is correct.

37 posted on 02/01/2003 3:13:55 PM PST by upchuck (Prayer: )
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To: ChemistCat
It's that kind of day...(
38 posted on 02/01/2003 3:13:57 PM PST by jwfiv
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
When you're going 20 times the speed of sound, going between California and Texas takes no time at all.

That's exactly why I tend to believe this story...Or the observers credibility.....

39 posted on 02/01/2003 3:14:57 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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To: All
Just wondering. Where is ASSOCIATED PRESS based at,

and why is this report timed at: 12:03 a.m., February 1, 2003

40 posted on 02/01/2003 3:17:12 PM PST by AlabamaRebel
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To: Born to Conserve
Will a telescope be able to track something moving that fast?

Yes, I track both the ISS and any object (with 1 meter resolution at 250 miles) that has published orbital elements with my Meade LX200 & Satellite Tracker software. On reentry the elements change too much for me .... professionals can easily track it

41 posted on 02/01/2003 3:18:52 PM PST by Yasotay
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To: Joe Hadenuf
I heard the interview about noon on KOMO Seattle. He sounded extremely credible. If there was slight structural damage from it being struck on the left wing, and tiles started to come off, it well could have started over California, or even sooner.
42 posted on 02/01/2003 3:21:39 PM PST by djf
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To: upchuck
So like my last question.

With your math there is no way it took over 9 hours from LA to Texas.

The main report here was writen at 12:03 am. What's with the time difference?
43 posted on 02/01/2003 3:22:24 PM PST by AlabamaRebel
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To: djf
Dang, I missed that interview......But I must say, his words did sound very credible......
44 posted on 02/01/2003 3:23:16 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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To: AlabamaRebel
they put in am instead of pm is my guess a web site problem.
45 posted on 02/01/2003 3:27:49 PM PST by TLBSHOW (God Speed as Angles trending upward dare to fly Tribute to the Risk Takers)
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To: socal_parrot
Bttt......And they will determine, without a doubt where the spacecraft started breaking up. I personally believe this guys account, given his background, etc.
46 posted on 02/01/2003 3:31:50 PM PST by Joe Hadenuf
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: sciencediet
It is about 900 seconds from California to Texas via Space Shuttle in that time frame. There were only 900 seconds left to the flight when we lost telemetry. If the debris were small at first reentry would probably consume them. Please Pray for all the families involved there are a great many more than just the Astronauts and all who touched their lives are devastated at this time. Yet we must find the reason, fix it and go on.

Ravenstar
48 posted on 02/01/2003 3:33:45 PM PST by Ravenstar (Bring Back the Constitutional Republic -- Disband the TSA)
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To: socal_parrot
He said he had never witnessed a shuttle re-entry before and is not an authority on shuttles, but he immediately thought Columbia was having problems.

End of discussion.

A downside of the instant information available, is that all sorts of silliness gets broadcast, like this.

49 posted on 02/01/2003 3:36:52 PM PST by don-o
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To: USABLUE
I am sorry USABLUE but you are wrong this was not an act of terrorism. It was at 38 miles up when it began to break up. The Chi Comms would not start a war that way they are already having too much success importing all our manufacturing Business and exporting the goods to provide funds for their own nuclear program. You do not do such a thing until you have clear superiority and they are about 5 years away from equality. It would be 50 years if not for the Sick Willie previous president.

Ravenstar
50 posted on 02/01/2003 3:39:32 PM PST by Ravenstar (Bring Back the Constitutional Republic -- Disband the TSA)
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