Remembering the Columbia

March 21, 2003

By Avi Green

Last January 25th to February 1st was an amazing event that sadly turned into tragedy instead. Seven astronauts made an orbital flight into space, including the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, and a woman who immigrated from India to the US, Kalpana Chawla. They took off into space from Cape Canaveral in Florida on the space shuttle Columbia.

I’d seen it on TV, and was very impressed by the flight that was being taken.

But then, a few days later, that impression was turned to sadness. The shuttle burned up in orbit, taking the entire crew with it, and ending the mission in ruins.

In a way, it was almost like a repeat of the disaster surrounding the Challenger, when that shuttle blew up while taking off for orbit in 1986. The difference in this case, is that the shuttle was destroyed when reentering the earth’s atmosphere.

What’s similar is that both flights included a Jewish astronaut on their crew roster. On the Challenger, it was Judith Resnik. On the Columbia, it was the aforementioned Ramon. The difference is that Resnik was born in the US, whereas Ramon was born in Israel.

The weirdest thing about this disaster, however, is that the Columbia blew up over Palestine, Texas. Upon having heard this, I was very baffled indeed. That a space expedition carrying the first Israeli astronaut would burn up and crash over a town bearing a Roman name for Israel that was used for political purposes and later reused during the British occupation of Israel in the early 20th century for the purpose of delegitimizing the country’s Jewish status (as many Ministers of Truth around the world are doing today) was a most peculiar occurance indeed. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s still very “News of the Weird”, as they say in some weekly newspapers like the Asheville Mountain Xpress of North Carolina.

For now though, it remains to be answered: can the expedition into space ever be conducted successfully? That’s a question that I for one just can’t answer myself.

To conclude, let us remember the brave seven who flew into orbit on the mission from NASA.

William McCool
Ilan Ramon
Kalpana Chawla
Laurel Clark
Rick Husband
Michael Anderson
David Brown

They will always be remembered for their bravery and dedication to mankind.

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

Home FAQ Columns Reviews Links Favorite Characters Special Features Politics Blog Comics Blog Food Blog