Front Page Archive
September 10, 2004
David Sadler For Congress (2002 archive)
12th CD/Illinois

• 2004.09.10 • UPDATE: 2006.06.28 •
redSprite_sm vLightningSTS31.gif
"Red Sprite from a video tape provided by Dave Sentman of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Red Sprite reached altitude > 85 km. Tendrils beneath sprite are as low as 60 km. Bright area beneath sprite is an over-exposure of normal lightning occuring in top portion of active thunderstorm complex located in the Texas panhandle. Cloud tops in this complex were about 18 km"
-- Caption text from Space Shuttle Observations of Lightning - Mesoscale Lightning Experiment --
Vertical lightning from STS-31 orbit 55 video image from low light level TV.
Time stamp format = Month Day Year HH:MM:SS.milliseconds Mission/Orbit number
Columbia's Sacrifice website theory suggests an external electrical event just prior to breakup contributed the demise of Columbia. Possiblities include red sprites, blue jets and vertical lightning.

Columbia's Sacrifice

by David Sadler
UPDATE: 2006.06.28
In the public interest, this site reposted a photograph allegedly taken from the TV program "Megalightning." This site credited the source to the best or our ability at the time even though we had not seen the documentary. Our image was downloaded from the Internet, and attempts to locate a copy for sale of the documentary have proven fruitless.

The amateur astronomer from San Francisco who took the photograph and holds the copyright to the image has requested the image be removed. We are complying with that request. We have no doubt this historic image will one day be available to the public.

Right now, there are more important issues to worry about. STS-121 is about to fly (July 1, 2006) in spite of protest from NASA engineers. A Shuttle engineer says he's off the team for having safety reservations just as another crew of astronauts trust their lives to NASA managers under pressure to launch. This crew has a one percent chance of dying, but one hundred more shuttles won't fly.

The STS was a bad idea to begin with. Too much fire, smoke and vibration. The system is far too complicated to be safe and cost effective. In retrospect, it's greatest accomplishment was the Hubble.

Excluding the Hubble, the STS has produced nothing we could not have accomplished with expendable rockets. The ISS (International Space Station) and even our manned military and intelligence missions could have been done with expendables. It's ironic then that perhaps it's most valuable direct scientific lesson to us regards our upper atmosphere, and that lesson, for now at least, is not available for public inspection.

NASA has massive problems spanning the gamut of a public agency before even considering its problems as a scientific agency.

With the end of rising energy prices no where in sight and with endless wars and open borders straining the treasury of the American taxpayer, NASA must know that the STS program and the Moon/Mars program are not of high priority for this nation.

Our national skill set of interplanetary navigation and robotics along with a space-based observatory suite pointing both towards and away from Earth, offer the best return on investment in Earth and space science for the American taxpayer.

Do we really need a space station before we develop national energy independence? No. Do we need to send people to the Moon and Mars before we stabilize energy prices so we don't have to fight wars for energy? No.

We are nearing a curtain call for manned spaceflight at least until we get our house in order. The affordable exploration of the past is turning into extravagances we can no longer afford. The cost has been high. Two STS crews so far with almost nothing to show for it but watching astronauts play in zero-g. Let's pray a third crew is not required.

-- David Sadler, 2006.06.29 --


It might seem like ancient history now and of little priority considering the war in Iraq, the destruction of our economy and the constant appeal to fear coming out of Washington, D.C, but the Columbia space shuttle disaster is still having its affects upon our space program.

No space shuttle has flown since the breakup of Columbia over the continental U.S. as it was making its reentry in preparation for landing.

Yes, there was a commission (an official investigation) into what caused the disaster, and the block of foam insulation from the external fuel tank hitting the left wing of Columbia was the first and last official explanation for the ultimate demise of Columbia and its crew. But there is still much disagreement on that conclusion from engineers both inside and outside NASA.

The website, Columbia's Sacrifice©, will challenge the lack of engineering knowledge of non-engineers, and it will challenge qualified engineers to reexamine the plausibility of the 'official' investigative panel's conclusions regarding the cause.

Jon Hix and his colleagues have done an incredible job of pulling together source documents and source footage of the Columbia disaster. Everything, all the technical facts and timelines available, has been gathered and organized for a very objective study of this tragic incident.

And as a sign of objectivity and total professionalism, Columbia's Sacrifice states quite plainly that if anyone can dispute any evidence or conclusions presented, simply contact them and provide the material, data and analysis. The investigative team at Columbia's Sacrifice is ready to modify its conclusions if warranted by evidence or analysis that falsifies its primary conclusion that Columbia's fate rested not on foam hitting the left wing upon launch, but by being subjected to an EMP energy field as it began its reentry into the earth's atmosphere.

Anyone who thinks this is a casual conclusion or who is offended by its implications needs only to consume the incredible presentation of source evidence and qualified analysis on this superbly organized website,

As an introduction, I would suggest watching a flash video presentation of the reentry and breakup of Columbia. Not because of its sensationalism, but because we need to remember right from the start the tragedy involved. In doing so, the viewer is going to be presented in this brief seven minutes with several unanswered questions regarding the breakup and the conflicts presented in the official explanation.

Next, read the Final Conclusions presented by this team of independent investigators who are ready to modify their conclusions IF anyone can falsify the current set.

Then, start at the beginning, and see what a remarkable feat these individuals have accomplished. A tremendous amount of time and effort has gone into this independent investigation out of a passion for their love of the civilian space program and a search for a more probable cause of the accident that better fits the documented facts of the event.

Consider the huge amount of source data and documentation assembled and catalogued for public review. Consider then their analytical methodology leading to their current conclusions. These conclusions have vast and unsettling implications for NASA and for the nation that lost its Columbia space shuttle crew.

This Columbia flash video will take about 7 minutes to watch. On the Macintosh, Safari would not play this flash demo. The Macintosh version of Microsoft Internet Explorer would. There was no problem watching this on the PC with Internet Explorer.

This flash presentation consists of sequential editing of all known video (amateur and pro) of the Columbia reentry. NASA flight control communications has been overlaid to match the video timeline. This communication is heart wrenching as the systems aboard the Columbia begin to fail and as the ground support team members at NASA begin to realize that all is not well with Columbia as each mounting failure is reported to 'flight.'

• Flash Video of reentry and flight comm (for timeline, loss of signal and debris field purposes)

• Final Conclusions

• Finally, here is the home page.

My thanks to Jon Hix for bringing his team's site to our attention.

External links:
    • Space Shuttle Observations of Lightning - Mesoscale Lightning Experiment
    • Color image of a Red Sprite "July 4, 1994 at 04:00:20 UTC, which reached an altitude of over 85 km, the tendrils beneath the sprite are as low as 60 km. The bright area beneath the sprite is an over-exposure of normal lightning occuring in the top portion of an active thunderstorm complex located in the Texas panhandle." -- Space Shuttle Observations of Lightning - Mesoscale Lightning Experiment page, links to this image developed from a video tape provided to them by Dave Sentman of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks --
    • Shuttle engineer says he's off team / His e-mail cites a conflict over his support of those who questioned flight preparation
    • National Geographic Channel - Prime Time Video Highlights / "Was megalightning a factor in the shuttle disaster?" A search on National Geographic Channel for the Megalightning program produces these search results. Link produced is not the megalightning program. A search for this video for sale produces no results.
    • National Geographic Channel USA: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 Listings
    • Columbia Disaster Revisited (1) / Thunderbolts, Mar 31, 2006, "Today we are returning to ... one of the most important images among the hundreds of images we have discussed in these pages. On February 23, 2005 our topic was, "Space Shuttle Struck by Megalightning?" The accompanying picture is seen above. [Now Deleted] It shows the plasma trail of the shuttle Columbia on reentry about 63 kilometers above the earth, and it seems to show an electric discharge striking the shuttle's plasma trail ... Shortly after we posted the story, the amateur astronomer who had taken the picture contacted us. He insisted that we remove the photograph. So we did ... "
    • Columbia Shuttle Disaster Revisited (2) / Thunderbolts, Apr 17, 2006, "It is time for NASA to release its analysis of the image above, so that the original question—was the shuttle Columbia struck by megalightning?—can be answered more definitively, whatever that answer may be."
    • Columbia Shuttle Disaster Revisited (3): The Realities of Megalightning / Thunderbolts, Apr 21, 2006, "Some have dubbed it the "ignorosphere" because it has been largely ignored during the space age. But the upper atmosphere now reveals electrical phenomena that are critical to the safety of future astronauts." and "'red sprites', 'blue jets', and 'elves' ... These phenomena, now fully acknowledged, occur at elevations that were systematically ignored due to prior beliefs about "what makes lightning"
    • Space Shuttle Struck by Megalightning? / Thunderbolts Pic of the Day has been removed from the Thunderbolts site.
    • S.F. man's astounding photo /
    • Breakup may have begun above California
    • Wrong Place, Wrong Time! / Guy Cramer
    • San Francisco Photos indicate Shuttle Columbia was struck by Hyper-Lightning on Reentry / Guy Cramer
    • NASA - Columbia - Home
    • Troubled Times: Columbia Shuttle
    • google: Space Shuttle Struck Megalightning
    • google: columbia shuttle san francisco chronicle nasa
    • google: shuttle columbia california astronomer picture photograph