Rest in Peace, Columbia

We’ve been getting calls pretty steady all morning from friends and family, making sure we’re ok since all the reports have the Columbia breaking up over north Texas.
The shuttle broke up south of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and local stations are using weather radar to track the debris field, which is now south and east of the D/FW metroplex, beginning around Nagodoches and moving slightly south and east through Rusk, TX, into western Louisiana.
I had heard on the news last night that the shuttle would be visible this morning, but forgot to mention it to my wife so we could set the alarms earlier than normal. A friend in Boston woke us up with a phone call to make sure we were ok, and that was the first we heard of it.
I recall a science demonstration at our high school in the mid-to-late 1980s where a guy had a blowtorch going on a space shuttle tile throughout his entire program. At the end, he had a student come up, removed the blowtorch, and dared the student to touch the tile. Trent (I remember his name!) was a little hesitant, but did touch it, and he reported it was completely cool.
Major Texas connections on this Columbia flight: Commander Rick Husband was from Amarillo, Pilot William McCool was from Lubbock, and mission specialist Kalpana Chawla was the 2d graduate of the University of Texas-Arlington to go into space.
Like many, I have now witnessed Columbia’s first flight into space, and it’s last return. Certainly, this is not the type of return anyone would have wanted. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the seven souls lost on the Columbia.
UPDATE (12:15pm CST): Lee has more thoughts and info.

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