Resources, Story Ideas and More

Shuttle Links and Overview
WFAA's coverage includes an extensive webpage with video, slideshows, online user feedback pages and a "what witnesses saw" page, as well, at

See an online shuttle enthusiasts' blog on FreeRepublic, which tracked the re-entry of the Columbia before during and after the incident:   

This is such a remarkable way that the online experience sews together people in times like this.
Some newspapers, such as the Washington Post, are allowing online readers to share their thoughts:

Many sites did this after the 9-11 attacks. It turns the web into a big gathering place, which could be especially important on the weekend when people are not surrounded by others as they would be in a workplace.

Here is a magnificent collection of Sunday's editorial cartoons from Daryl Cagle's Index:

First published information:
Monitor many websites at once on 1st Headlines at

WFAA-TV Dallas' video of the debris streaking across the sky can be viewed at

A listing of all police agencies in Texas could be a valuable resource for debris location. It's at

A Nacogdoches, Texas, newspaper website ( shows debris found in that county. It's the first picture of debris -- posted at 12:14 EST -- I have seen on the web.

A listing of all Texas Newspaper websites and Television websites is at

Orlando Sentinel's breaking news coverage is at

Florida Today is keeping a weblog of information and statements that is very useful at

You can receive live Shuttle Communications at
 via RealAudio. This is Houston Mission Control's live audio. There will be long delays between transmissions from Mission Control. Just minimize the window and keep it running if you want/need to monitor developments. Do us all a favor and don't have all of your newsroom computers running this.

The Crew
Photos and background of the crew are at The sites includes interviews with each crew member while they were in space on this mission. It's certainly worth linking to at

The seven members of this diverse crew on the missing shuttle Columbia included four space rookies:

Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon -- bio at
William McCool -- bio at
David Brown -- bio at
Laurel Clark -- bio at

Veteran crew members included:
Rick Husband -- bio at
Kalpana Chawla -- bio at;
background from South Asian Journalists Association at
Mike Anderson -- bio at

More sources on the crew:,2933,77254,00.html

Mission information
You can find background on STS 107 from NASA here: has special coverage, including mission pictures. A NASA press kit backgrounder and information on STS 107 is at

Background on the Space Station -- including a 3D view -- is at

NASA TV online is at

Shuttle radio transmissions online (this is a file, not live) is at

Here is a master list of all of the experiments on board STS 107: If you are near a research university, you should check this extensive list to see if you had any experiments on this flight:

I see experiments listed from Columbus, Ohio; Louisiana; Italy; Germany; Amsterdam; Paris; Canada; Harvard University; Alabama; Colorado; Maryland. There are many more. There are some interesting experiments from school students including an ant experiment from a high school in Syracuse and a silk work experiment from a 5th-grader in China.

Here are some stats about this mission:
This was the 113th for the space shuttle program since flights began on April 12, 1981. It was the 88th mission since the 1986 explosion of Challenger. For Columbia, the oldest orbiter in NASA's fleet, this was its 28th flight.

Here is a log of events for STS 107:
This is a minute-by-minute log of the mission schedule:

What happened? has a great explainer about space shuttles at: It includes information, like this: "It is possible to hold a space shuttle tile by the edge and then heat up the center of the tile with a blow torch. The tile insulates so well that no heat makes it out to the edges."

The tiles have been a problem for the shuttle since before the first flight. There are ">several theories about something having hit some of the tiles upon liftoff. Another possiblity is that the shuttle came back into earth's orbit at an improper angle. Here is a very good question and answer on how shuttles land:

IRE, the Investigative Reporters and Editors association, has a terrific resource page online at to help you find and investigate other parts of the shuttle story. For example, IRE is pulling together a list of contractors on shuttle flights. The IRE and NICAR Data Library has compiled data regarding NASA contracts for fiscal years 1992-2001. As reported, space shuttles have been through several renovation projects over the years. Among other things, the data shows the company, including location, and the amount involved. It also includes general descriptions of the type of work. For basic information about the federal contracts database, go to:

For each fiscal year, NASA records 10,000 to 11,000 contracts for a large variety of work. To obtain the data, contact the Data Library at 573-884-7711.

Graphics/Information Graphics
Special thanks to Paul Nixon for his help collecting these

Space Shuttle Columbia Breaks Up Over Texas:
(Graphic, Reuters via Yahoo! News )
Photo Montage:
(Flash, Washington Post)
STS-107 Quick-Look Mission Facts and Figures: (HTML Table, Space Flight Now)
Shuttle Timeline 1981-2002: (Interactive Timeline, MSNBC)
Space Shuttle Orbiter:
(Flash, The Guardian)
Milestones in Space Shuttle History:
(Interactive Timeline, CNN)
Shuttle Flight from Re-entry to Touchdown:
(Interactive Graphic, CNN)

Radar images
A radar image of the debris field can be found here:

Weather radar shows debris field: (Image, Houston Chronicle)

Here is a radar picture at the time of the reentry:
(the debris scatters across the screen)

A nation chronicles, mourns
The Internet is an important resource for events like this.
Serious web bloggers collect and chronicle events, like this one at

The Internet also becomes a place where, especially on weekends, the world can collect around a sort of electronic hearth and collectively grieve. Chat boards and postings are building on all sorts of sites, including Beliefnet's prayer circles at

International coverage
The Jerusalem Post is aggressively covering the story at
with special attention to Ramon.

Historical perspective
Coverage from Jan. 28, 1986, the day the Challenger exploded upon liftoff:

Here is the actual Rogers Commission report, which was the investigation of the Challenger explosion:
This is their page of recommendations:

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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