It was deja vu all over again. Much of America woke up on February
1st only to discover that Columbia, the country's first
fully-functional space shuttle, had disintegrated in orbit over
Texas as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.
For ANN Associate Editor Pete Combs, it was a trial by fire. That
first Saturday in February was his first day on the job. Living in
Dallas (TX) at the time, Combs heard the sonic boom that
accompanied Columbia's destruction. Moments later, he and
Correspondent Rob Milford were on the phone as Milford sped south
to the debris field.
The past year has seen a lot of bad aviation news, but a bright
and shining hope in the form of the first private ventures into
space. Thanks to the $10-million X-Prize competition, more than two
dozen teams from around the world are trying to get their own
version of a reusable space vehicle 60-miles above the Earth to
become the first privately-run space operation.
Few stand a better chance to being first than Scaled Composites,
Burt Rutan's Mojave (CA) operation.