Space Shuttle Columbia

This Washington Post article, published 32 minutes before mission control lost contact with the Space Shuttle Columbia, offers a sad glimpse into a parallel ending to today’s disaster (via Mefi).

“We’ve taken all reasonable measures, and all of our landings so far since 9-11 have gone perfectly,” said Lt. Col. Michael Rein, an Air Force spokesman. …

Some of Columbia’s crew members didn’t want their time in space to end.

“Do we really have to come back?” astronaut David Brown jokingly asked Mission Control before the ride home.

NASA’s next shuttle flight, a space station construction mission, is scheduled for March. The next time Columbia flies will be in November, when it carries into orbit educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who was the backup for Challenger crew member Christa McAuliffe in 1986.