Feeds

Columbia debris emerges from Texas lake

Drought reveals doomed shuttle's reactant tank

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A drought in Texas has revealed a piece of space shuttle Columbia, destroyed on re-entry over the state on 1 February, 2003.

The 40-inch spherical reactant tank emerged from the waters of Lake Nacogdoches, close to Nacogdoches in eastern Texas, where a substantial amount of Columbia debris fell following the disaster.

Nacogdoches police sent NASA a photo of the aluminium object, and one of the original shuttle engineers was able to confirm its provenance. NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone told Space.com: "One of the guys had been here more than 30 years and recognized it, and said, 'That's one of the tanks'."

Malone said NASA is now looking to reunite the piece with other Columbia debris in Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building. She explained: "We're working the plans and details out right now as to how we would get it shipped back here. We do want to collect the debris items and keep them in one place."

The reactant tank – one of 16 onboard Columbia used for storing liquid hydrogen and oxygen – will join the roughly 38 to 40 per cent of the shuttle's remains which have been recovered. The rest burned up on re-entry or still lie where they fell to Earth.

Malone said: "From time to time throughout the year we do get phone calls and emails from people about items they think are debris."

The Columbia disaster was caused by a piece of foam insulation from the shuttle's external fuel tank which flew off during launch and punched a hole in the spacecraft's left wing leading edge. The resulting damage to the thermal protection system allowed hot gas to enter the wing during re-entry, causing the vehicle to disintegrate.

NASA concluded that the crew – commander Rick Husband; pilot William McCool; mission specialists David Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark; payload commander Michael Anderson; and payload specialist Ilan Ramon – were killed by a rapid cabin depressurisation.

Malone admitted that new discoveries of Columbia debris "opens old wounds". She said: "It always makes you think about the accident and Columbia and the crew of course. It always does serve as a reminder."

There's more, and a photo of the reactant tank, here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.