Weather

Feb 1, 2013 4:55 PM by Rob Perillo

Louisiana Perspective of Shuttle Tragedy

This is an excerpt from Rob Perillo's Weather Blog. Read more and see the video of coverage here.

It's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia accident that some of us witnessed live across the Gulf Coast on Saturday morning February 1, 2003 . As many of you already know, in addition to meteorology, I'm a space and astronomy geek and have added many of the celestial happenings outside of our atmosphere to my daily weathercasts over the years.

The most spectacular events I have ever witnessed outside of weather, were the space shuttle re-entries that brought the craft on a flight path along the Gulf Coast prior to landing roughly 11 minutes later in Florida. On occasion, when the flight path was over Acadiana, and when it would be dark or near dusk, we would be able to see the plasma stream of the shuttle as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere some 50 miles up.

These re-entry's happened only a handful of times over Acadiana during the 30 year program, and one of the last ones that were visible locally, was Columbia's last.

Columbia was scheduled to fly over Acadiana shortly after sunrise on February 1, 2003 when I went to the cul-de-sac in front of my house to set up my video camera to shoot in the direction of the shuttle's entry. We would be able see it in Acadiana roughly when the craft was over Northeast Texas.

I had just finished setting my camera up and focused on the plasma trail when suddenly I saw roughly seven to eight chunks of debris burning in a star-bust pattern in the west-northwestern sky...I could not believe what I just saw...I get chills on the back of my neck as I write this.

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