For Columbia

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In February 2003 the crew of STS-107

went further than they intended and entered the gates of Heaven.

Husband, McCool, and Anderson. Clark, Ramon, Chawla, and Brown

braved the indifferent Universe and gained eternal renown.

On the first re-usable spaceship to fly into orbit and return,

Columbia's thundering rocket engines twenty-eight times would burn.

For the twenty-eighth time Columbia stood on Florida's eastern shore,

ready to rise up off the Earth and beyond the sky to soar.

Out on the faraway launch pad distance seemingly shrank

the giant solid-rocket boosters, the Orbiter, and the external propellant tank.

Riding a cloud of bellowing fire, seven daring souls rose into the sky.

Leaping into space at hypersonic speed, they carried Humanity's endless Why.

In orbit about our fair Earth, they performed their experiments and more,

interrogating reluctant Nature to see what knowledge she has in store.

With the knowledge gained, they returned to Earth through a danger all knew well.

They guided their ship through blessed air that their motion made a blazing Hell.

Like the others who had gone before, they believed the danger they would defeat,

certain that the bricks on their ship's outer hull would protect them from the heat.

But hazard's talons ripped their ship and spilled them across the sky.

Now, freed from the constraints of matter, in a more aetherial realm they fly.

An invisible brush painted fiery streaks across the Texas sky.

And on the ground a helpless people could only grieve and cry.

The picture of meteoric destruction that erased seven good lives

reminds us of the price of progress toward which Humanity strives.

So seven souls were freed for a final mission, a Heavenly space to roam,

as with Its brush the Unknown Artist sent Death to take our astronauts home.

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