There are very few subjects that would get me to write a book or participate in a blog, but finally telling the untold piece of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy has done it. Jonathan Ward and I are honored to finally bring it to you and the American people, who deserve to know how well the recovery and reconstruction of Columbia‘s debris went. And, more importantly, it relates how thousands of Americans from completely diverse walks of life came together for the single purpose of assisting NASA and their country in an endeavor unlike any other in history.
The loss of Columbia’s seven astronaut crew members and the Orbiter itself has been documented in several books of varying styles, technical acumen, and/or retrospective insight, but the recovery of her debris and subsequent reconstruction for engineering forensic study has never been adequately documented. ‘Bringing Columbia Home’ will do it in detail, with the story told by those that did it. It is an integral part of the national tragedy and, interestingly, a real success story.
The loss was deeply moving for those of us who were close to the astronauts and the Space Shuttle program. It also became an indelible memory for over 25,000 Americans who answered the call for help. The book will be dedicated to them. We hope it will well honor the American spirit of cooperation and compassion they brought to the effort. I saw it. I experienced it. I was part of it. It was real.
Jonathan and I welcome your comments and recollections as we write the book. We have tried very hard to interview folks from all the many different organizations and “ordinary citizens” who contributed their time and hearts recovering over 84,000 pieces of Columbia from the raw fields of east Texas and those that were asked to figure out what happened to the mighty spaceship based solely on the recovered debris.
The success of both groups contributed directly to NASA’s ability to get the Shuttle flying again, and safer. And that was glorious to experience.
So here we go. And to the 25,000, we hope the eventual book (publication estimate December, 2017) will be one you will be proud of and can share with your families, friends, and especially your children, relating your own contribution in a way only you can. For me, I am profoundly proud to have been part of your team.
–Mike Leinbach, former Space Shuttle Launch Director