From NASA to all FIRST teams


On January 16th, we saw our loved ones launch into a brilliant, cloud-free sky. Their hearts were full of enthusiasm, pride in country, faith in their God, and a willingness to accept risk in the pursuit of knowledge — knowledge that might improve the quality of life for all mankind. Columbia’s 16–day mission of scientific discovery was a great success, cut short by mere minutes ---- yet it will live on forever in our memories. We want to thank the NASA family and people from around the world for their incredible outpouring of love and support. Although we grieve deeply, as do the families of Apollo 1 and Challenger before us, the bold exploration of space must go on. Once the root cause of this tragedy is found and corrected, the legacy of Columbia must carry on — for the benefit of our children and yours.

On behalf of all the people of NASA, and in particular those that knew and worked with the STS-107 crew, we would like to thank you for your messages of consolation and support. The last five days have been difficult as we recover from the loss of family, friends, comrades, and compatriots.

In our name they willingly strapped themselves to four million pounds of explosives and hurtled to the skies. With full understanding of the risks, they sought knowledge that was destined to enrich us all. Let their legacy not be one of grief and mourning. Instead, remember them for the pursuit of excellence and quest for knowledge that they embodied.

This crew had a special role in the world of FIRST. Three of them – Dave, KC and Lauren – volunteered their time as judges and speakers at several of the regional competitions over the past years. Despite the overwhelming schedule demands placed on active crew members, they always made the time to encourage the next generation of explorers, inventors, and scientists. Their lives and actions personified the values of inspiration and education that are shared by NASA and FIRST. They represented the best of both communities, and for that they will always be remembered.

Because of the significance the crew of STS-107 had to many of those in FIRST, we will be collecting the messages from FIRST team members and passing them to the astronaut office and crew families. Relevant electronic messages will be collected from the existing appropriate threads from this forum. If you do not wish to publicly post, but would like to include a message, you may e-mail it to [email protected] to have it included. Likewise, hard copy messages will be gathered and forwarded to the astronaut office. They may be sent to:

Dave Lavery
NASA Headquarters
Mail Stop SM
300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546

As a final note, there have been several discussions about various types of symbolic memorials that may be incorporated into competition robots this year. We gratefully acknowledge the intent and sentiment behind any such display. We do ask that, should your team choose to incorporate the STS-107 mission patch in such a design, that it be displayed in a simple unadorned manner consistent with the patch design (as originally designed by the STS-107 crew).

I’ll send you a card and an e-mail when I get home Dave.

I’m going to write something for you. I hope to see you at VCU and I’ll send you a special case of Krispy Kreams from Team 384. :slight_smile:

We are all saddened by the loss of the crew of the Columbia. I heard on the news that a group raised one million dollars to place into a trust for the children of the Challenger astronauts.

Would it be appropriate for F.I.R.S.T. teams to collect donations to be turned over to a group doing the same for the children of the Columbia astronauts?

If each team brought a check to the regionals from their community we could not only honor the memory of the crew but also further the FIRST and NASA goals to place a high priority on the advancement of science and technology.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you Dave. Also, another (non-FIRST) group at my school was looking for a place to send cards and letters. May we send these to you also, or is there another address?

The crew of STS-107 and all space shuttle crews have a significant meaning to myself and many others. Not only is NASA and the individuals of the organization involved with FIRST but in many other educational organizations that allow ordinary people like those of us participating in FIRST do extraordinary things. Through the NASA program S.E.M. I have sent an experiment into space, through FIRST I have gone through six weeks of voluntary insomnia, and perhaps later on in life I may be shot into space via the shuttle program. Without these people, these current astronauts paving the way for humanity to cross the threshold into the unknown, without their willingness and sacrifice, we would have nothing. I feel deeply for the families of the astronauts who perished in the unfortunate accident, and I want them to know that even though their loved ones were ordinary people, they are true heroes in a genuine aspect. We in FIRST benefit from the bravery of these people, and it saddens me that it takes tragedy to realise the true nature of our fellow man.

         -Justin Baumgartner, Team 706 of Hartland, Wisconsin

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

“We shall never forget them nor the last time we saw them, as they prepared for their mission and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”

— Ronald Reagan (after Challenger)

This brings up an intresting question Dave:

What will happen to it?

And remember the slogan:


Okay, the Mission: Space thing is a bit off-topic, but for an interesting article about it’s future given the past week’s events, see

*Originally posted by EvilInside *
**Through the NASA program S.E.M. I have sent an experiment into space -Justin Baumgartner, Team 706 of Hartland, Wisconsin **

You sent an experiment up? Thats pretty cool. My AS Chem class participated in the contest last year, and one group won!! I was in that group until I decided to do something more interesting, but oh well. Has your experiment been sent up yet? I think our school’s wont be going for quite awhile with the recent tragedy.


Myself and two other people worked on the experiment, but unfortunately neither of them are in Robotics. It went up last year, and that was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in space experimenting.