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Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,668 ratings  ·  209 reviews
Mike Leinbach was the launch director of the space shuttle program when Columbia disintegrated on reentry before a nation's eyes on February 1, 2003. And it would be Mike Leinbach who would be a key leader in the search and recovery effort as NASA, FEMA, the FBI, the US Forest Service, and dozens more federal, state, and local agencies combed an area of rural east Texas th ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Arcade
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Start your review of Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew
Joy D
“The last few seconds of telemetry received in Mission Control on February 1 indicated Columbia’s crew likely knew their ship was in trouble in the final half minute before it broke apart. The data showed that Columbia’s steering thrusters were firing to compensate for drag on the left wing, the ship was rolling, and the triply-redundant hydraulic system was losing pressure. All of those conditions would have set off alarms inside the cockpit.” – Michael D. Leinbach and Jonathan H. Ward, Bringin ...more
Kate
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
I am a total NASA nerd. Reading about the history of manned space flight is one of my passions, so I was really looking forward to this book’s release. I remember the day Columbia broke up vividly. And this book is really interesting, because it’s not about the launch, where Columbia was doomed, or what the astronauts did during their time in space, it’s fully about the recovery of the Columbia debris (and the great lengths taken to find the remains of her crew) and the effort to find out what c ...more
Katie
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the morning of February 1, 2003, I was in my car and tuned in to the local NPR radio station. Despite working in the space industry, I hadn't been following shuttle missions very closely, so I wasn't expecting to hear anything in particular about Columbia's return. But I was confused to hear an audio feed from mission control in Houston, with the call, "Columbia, Houston. Comm check." repeated over and over. What was going on? Why were they broadcasting this? Of course the grim situation soon ...more
Neela
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just LOVED this book.. Hats off to the authors for writing such an incredible book !
Must read for all space program lovers !!
Kristy
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting this to be such an emotional reading experience, but it most definitely was. This tells the story of the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003. But it tells way more than that. In this incredible book you really get to see just how amazing people are, the lengths that strangers will go to step up in the midst of a crisis, and the idea that the space program is America's space program and that it's important.

I remember when the Columbia broke apart on reentry. I watched a lot of t
...more
Peter Schmeltzer
Good story. A bit drawn out. Never more proud to be an American. Everything about this story says "American Exceptionalism" from the Shuttle program to the massive volunteer recovery effort. ...more
Diana
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very, very detailed account of the recovery efforts for the Columbia orbiter. So many names, places, and minutia that probably helped bring closure to people more directly involved. For an average reader or even someone with a mild interest in space, it was TOO detailed and could have been greatly shortened. The story it tells is important and 5 star worthy in itself, but the book was a bit tedious at times. I wish there was a little more personal background on the crew and the missio ...more
Jay
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, favorites
A great story about what happened immediately after the Space Shuttle Columbia’s breakup while re-entering earth's atmosphere, from the actions of NASA, first responders throughout the country, federal, state, and local government officials, and citizen volunteers through the accident investigation. This is what I would call a “got their hands dirty” story – the work being described was mostly the hands-on, in the field variety, not so much the stuff happening back at the office. And by in the f ...more
Olivia
Jul 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
ugh - terrific. definitely up there with carrying the fire in my list of manned space flight novels. perhaps one of the only novels on my goodreads that actually deserves the 5/5. :P

i think Leinbach did a brilliant job in explaining the processes, people and technology involved with this intense search in a digestible way. god the attention to detail involved with the mission and the uncovering of what went wrong... it’s incredible that they were able to use the pieces of labelled tile debris to
...more
Krista
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unbiased review provided in exchange for an ARC from Edelweiss.


"Bringing Columbia Home" is a story about logistics and humanity. It seems a difficult mix, but it works: We start the book with the movement of Columbia through launch and her final moments upon return. The vast majority of the book is dedicated to the what came after--how, exactly, did NASA recover over 40% of the shuttle, with pieces smaller than nickels, and with such dedication to the privacy and dignity of those lost in the mis
...more
The other Sandy
Utterly stultifying, unless you love logistics as much as the authors do. So if you want to know how many government agencies responded to the crisis, how many people searched which grid coordinates (and what they wore and how many eggs they collectively ate for breakfast), how much debris they recovered, how many boxes that debris was packed into, how many trucks the boxes were loaded onto, and the decision tree behind where the trucks delivered the boxes, this is the book for you. The authors ...more
Julie
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, own
This is an extremely powerful book detailing the great effort in recovering the Space Shuttle Columbia, her crew, and the investigation into how the disaster occurred. Leinbach’s personal connection to the accident (as Launch Director) made for an emotional narrative.

When Columbia disintegrated upon reentry, pieces of debris rained down over a huge swath of land in east Texas and into Louisiana. The most remarkable thing was that there were no casualties on the ground as a result! “Miraculously
...more
Claudia
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The commemorative video's title says it all: Sixteen Minutes from Home.

On February 1, 2003, space shuttle Columbia and her crew were on the way home with the plan to land at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Over Texas it disintegrated, leaving a trail of debris nearly 250 miles long from south of Dallas to just over the border with Louisiana.

The author, Michael Leinbach, was the launch director of NASA's space shuttle program. as well as a key leader in the search and recovery of the debri
...more
Diane
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
All of us who were alive then remember the Apollo I fire in 1967 that killed astronauts Chaffee, Grissom, and White on the ground. All of us who were alive then remember the loss of space shuttle Challenger upon liftoff in 1986 because we saw it happen live on television and because that flight included teacher Christa McAuliffe.

Space Shuttle Columbia failed upon reentry, breaking up across remote parts of south Texas in 2003. Seven astronauts lost their lives, just minutes from their planned la
...more
Miri Niedrauer
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
As a very young child living in rural East Texas during the Columbia Disaster, I have distinct memories of searching the fields of my family's small farm with my brothers for shuttle debris hoping that we could make a contribution to history (we never found any).

Reading this story as an adult is an incredibly emotional experience, recalling the fear of the possibility of happening upon human remains, and laying awake at night wondering if the astronauts had suffered as their ship burned. Even b
...more
Steven
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remember watching videos of space shuttle Columbia's destruction in high school. I also remembering wishing I knew that I could have looked up that morning and seen the shuttle fly over my hometown

This book's author, Michael Leinbach, was the head administrator for NASA's effort reconstruct the remains of the space shuttle and figure out what happened. The book focuses more on documenting how Columbia was recovered as opposed to what failures caused columbia to crash. And it's really fascinat
...more
Dalene W.
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly Amazing Book

This book will stay with me the rest of my life. As with so many tragedies in our times...the killings of JFK, MLK, RFK, the Challenger disaster, etc. They remain in our hearts and minds forever. As does the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. I don’t think that I have ever read a book so well researched before. I felt throughout the book as if I was right there with the thousands of people who searched for the remains of the crew and the debris from the shuttle. This book is not
...more
Harley
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some of my earliest memories are of Alan Shepard...John Glenn and the beginnings of our space program. And just like many others, I'll always remember where I was when I witnessed the loss of both the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles. So I was very interested in what Michael Leinbach had to say about the recovery efforts of the Columbia, for me it was a must read.
I think it is a remarkable book, at times uplifting and inspiring but also bringing sadness and tears
Highly recommended.
...more
Michael Mesarch
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was an excellent book that told of the heroic effort by the multi-agency team and numerous volunteers who labored to lay these astronauts to rest, discover the reason for the Columbia breakup, and to bring the shuttle fleet back to flight status. However, being a NASA employee, it was hard to read because of the emotional aspect of the story, even this many years later.
Patti B
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Before I start my review for "Bringing Columbia Home," I will share two facts: 1. Jonathan Ward (one of the authors) is a very dear friend of mine. 2. I, in general, do not care about the space program.

The book tells the Space Shuttle Columbia’s last flight and break up on re-entry, and while offering some technical descriptions, is much more focused on the amazing people who searched for the crews’ remains and shuttle debris and those that re-constructed the pieces to help determine what went
...more
Sara Gabai
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing.a little boring in parts, but all in all an amazing book. The parts where Ilan Ramon is mentioned made me shiver.
Eric
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Emergency Management is not a function which can be done alone. This book highlights the best in our race when confronted with unimaginable situations.
Mike Bill
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Emotional and fantastic. A story that had to be told of NASA’s darkest yet finest hour.
Suzanne
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing to read about federal, state and county agencies, as well as the general public, working together for a united purpose. Seems like a antiquated notion.
rixx
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
**Bringing Columbia Home** is the story of the aftermath of the break-up of the Columbia shuttle, told by *Michael D. Leinbach* who was a launch manager at NASA and bore responsibility during the collection of Columbia and the ensuing review. I didn't really like the book – the author gave me the feeling that the book was more written for the people involved in the clean-up missions, both volunteers and professionals, than for an interested outsider like me. Some chapters feel more like a long l ...more
Allyssa Smith
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
GREAT book about shutle.It has some cool new facts that a astronomy person (me) didn't know. ...more
Amy
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Holy Bible, Joshua 1:9 – Passage read by Commander Rick Husband, just before the launch of Columbia in January 2003.

A bit dry in parts, especially with regards to some of the more technical aspects of this investigation, but still well worth this 5 star rating, as for me, reading this book was like watching a car accident – I felt compelled to kee
...more
Bash
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was a big spacecraft that broke up over a huge area and required a massive recovery effort and thousands of people to figure out what happened. But this telling of the loss of Columbia and her crew, while going into great detail about the unprecedented land search and careful reconstruction effort, weaves a very human tale. Small gestures, little things, individual moments add up to an emotional account of finding pieces of the orbiter, respectfully recovering the remains of the crew and the ...more
John Leiby
Nov 12, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is mostly a chronological listing of events about the Columbia shuttle tragedy. If all you were interested in were the details, void of a narrative, then this book would fit the bill. Really too much insignificant listing of events. So and so found this piece of the shuttle, so and so found that piece of the shuttle, so and so said this.... just goes on and on. I would prefer more insight into the story and maybe differing perspectives about the events. To be honest I didn't finish the ...more
Brian Willy
Skim the middle.

The middle of the book reads like a bibliography, naming seemingly each person that found a piece of wreckage. The beginning is great and the analysis of an emergency rescue launch was good but brief.
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Play Book Tag: Bringing Columbia Home by Michael D. Leinbach - 4 stars 3 14 Oct 12, 2019 08:46PM  

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