O mighty yet graceful space shuttle Columbia -
we mourn thee and thy occupants.
The eldest of your sister ships, you paved the way for all manned space flight.
Each and every one of your missions came with great risks, yet you continued to launch time and time again, even after Challenger was lost in a fiery liftoff explosion.
For over twenty years you took us into outer space, a place which is as close to Heaven as anywhere can be, floating in zero gravity inside your protective cover.
You helped us to build and inhabit the International Space Station, our permanent residence in space.
You helped us maintain the Hubble Space Telescope, our ultimate eye in the sky, which helps us to look farther into space than we have ever seen before.
You launched the Chandra X-Ray observatory and dozens of other communications satellites.
You served your country's military by providing several classified missions to the Department of Defense.
You allowed us to do plentiful experiments in microgravity which would not be possible here on earth.
We will miss watching your thunderous launches and graceful landings.
We will miss your sonic booms which remind us of your supersonic speeds.
We will deeply miss your final crew of 7 brave souls who risked so much, and tragically lost their lives today.
When looking out your windows, we could see the Earth for what it really is: a small body in infinite space. The political boundaries we arbitrarily carve into it are not visible from orbit and for this we are most grateful, for perhaps one day our planet will stand united as one.
Your work in this world has finished, Columbia, but we who love you will never forget you and your years of service to us all.
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