Megalightning and the Demise of Space Shuttle Columbia - A Fresh Look at the Available Evidence

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Scientific Paper
Title

Megalightning and the Demise of Space Shuttle Columbia

- A Fresh Look at the Available Evidence
Read in full Link to paper
Author(s) Dave Smith
Keywords megalightning, atmospheric, discharge, STS-107, space, shuttle, columbia
Published 2009
Journal None
No. of pages 61

Read the full paper here

Abstract

Since the unfortunate demise of the Space Shuttle Columbia on 1 February 2003, there has been much public debate particularly on various internet sites and forums, over the cause of the disaster, despite the release of the official report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) in August of 2003. Most of this debate has centered on two main questions.

  • Did damage caused by a foam strike on launch cause the disaster?
  • Did an electical discharge event now known as "megalightning" occur in the upper atmosphere upon reentry contributing to the demise of the shuttle?

The suggestion of the second of these options was motivated by a curious photograph taken by an amateur astronomer during the orbiter's reentry as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle dated Wednesday 5 February, 2003.

It is not the intention of this paper to offer 'the truth' or a 'better theory' than other commentators, but to compare some of the published materials in the hope of coming to a better understanding thereof.