When did Kalpana Chawla die

panorama : Your last sign of life was an "Uh ..."

A pencil drawing was also on board. Ilan Ramon, the Israeli, had brought them with him. The drawing is called "lunar landscape". But the truth is that the earth can be seen as it might appear to a person standing on the moon. It is a fantasy drawing made by a 14-year-old boy named Peter Ginz. The boy had been put in a concentration camp by the Nazis and killed in 1944. Shortly before his death, Peter Ginz painted his "Moonscape". The astronaut Ramon, the son of an Auschwitz survivor, always carried this picture with him. Now Ramon and the six American crew members of the Columbia space shuttle, which crashed over the state of Texas on Saturday, are also dead. A quarter of an hour before it landed at the Cape Canaveral spaceport, it exploded, shattered, broken apart, burned up. The radio contact ended with the following words: Control Center: "Columbia, Houston, we see your tire pressure reports and we haven't copied the last ones." Columbia: "Understood, uh, ..."

What exactly happened is unclear. A terrorist attack was "highly unlikely," said a government official. When the US space agency NASA lost radio contact with Columbia at nine o'clock sharp in the morning, it was at an altitude of around 62,000 meters and was flying at about 20,000 km / h , that's six times the speed of sound. No surface-to-air missile can cover such distances.

The same images can be seen on all US news channels these morning hours. Because the shuttle was approaching its station in Florida, local cameras were already in position at the time of the accident.

Apparently burning, the space shuttle rushes towards Earth. Parts split off as a result of explosions. The ball pulls several long white stripes behind it. The engineers at NASA's control center in Houston are also tracking all of this. Her gaze shifts back and forth between television and computer screen in disbelief.

The first eye and ear witnesses of the drama are switched on by telephone on television. Some report a "loud bang". Bright objects are said to have raced across the sky, a "ball of fire". With others, the house shook. "It was like a train rushing through your garden." Nasa immediately calls the alarm and warns the population of potentially toxic debris. "Don't touch anything, report every find to the police!" In the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, rescue teams are rounded up, teams are looking for rubble.

Just last Tuesday, the Columbia crew put a minute of silence in space. It was the 17th anniversary of the Challenger crash. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after its launch.

At that time, too, all seven crew members died, including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. In addition, almost exactly to the day, on January 27, 1967, the first US astronauts were killed. During a test for the departure of the first Apollo mission, the capsule caught fire. The three pilots died. The two tragedies were 19 years apart and only one day apart. After 17 years and exactly four days, the third major catastrophe in the history of US space travel occurs.

"Today we commemorate the crews of Apollo 1 and the Challenger," said Rick Husband, Columbia commander last Tuesday. "They sacrificed their lives for their country and for humanity." And while the astronauts on Columbia last When they stopped working on Tuesday at 11:39 sharp, the flags at the Johnson Space Center in Houston were flown at half-mast, and a bell rang ten times for each of the ten astronauts killed.

The Columbia took off on Thursday, January 16, under the strictest security precautions. It was NASA's first pure research mission in three years. Bacteria, worms and rats were on board as test animals. Fish and water snails came from German laboratories. The European Space Agency Esa also took part in the 80 experiments. The main focus was on medical studies, but also on climate research. "We are carrying out these experiments for the benefit of mankind," said Ramon, the first Israeli in space, and then added: "For the benefit of all mankind, regardless of all borders. For us astronauts there is only one globe." Originally The Columbia should have started in July 2001. But the departure was postponed again and again. First there were technical problems, then many changes in NASA's priority in favor of flights to the space station ISS. Under ideal conditions, the Columbia finally took off Two of the seven crew members had space experience, the Husband commander and Kalpana Chawla, a 41-year-old Indian who immigrated to the United States in 1980, received her citizenship and operated the first robotic arm on a shuttle flight five years ago, but a year earlier Had Chawla made grave mistakes on a flight, had the Columbia flown too high, were the astronauts inexperienced? In the hours following the disaster, the catastrophe rushed rumors spread.

The crash of a space shuttle still protrudes from the catastrophes of the world. Why is that? Seven people die on the streets of Brandenburg on many weekends. But space travel has a different fascination than road traffic. George W. Bush, who was at his country estate in Camp David at the time of the Columbia disaster and returned to the White House around noon for crisis talks, tears came to his eyes during his short, poignant speech. He quoted from the Bible, condoled the relatives. The whole nation is shaken, upset, sad. Similar feelings are reported from the small Indian town of Karnal, where Kalpana Chawla comes from. 300 children from the school in Chawla wanted to sing and dance in honor of their heroine that evening. "Now they have been sitting there for hours and no longer understand the world," says the school principal.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page