Shuttle's re-entry briefly visible in Northern Nevada

Northern Nevada residents were among those early Saturday morning who witnessed the ill-fated Space Shuttle Columbia's re-entry into the atmosphere.

In Carson City, a handful of calls came in to emergency dispatchers about 6 a.m., including a report from a Carson City sheriff's deputy.

Sgt. Jeff Melvin said he was on duty in East Carson when he noticed something in the western sky.

"It looked like it was flying low and it was leaving a contrail," he said. "It was bright. I figured it was a jet, but it was silent."

Melvin said the object disappeared over the eastern horizon.

"The thing that really seemed out of place is it was silent," he said.

According to the NASA Web site, the shuttle's reentry would have been visible in Northern Nevada at 5:53 a.m. for about a minute.

Prior to reports of the shuttle's disintegration, Storey County Deputy Deejay Decena and two others on Six Mile Canyon Road also witnessed what they now believe to have been the shuttle.

"At first we thought it was a plane, but there were no blinking lights. It was traveling really fast, was bright and left a trail of smoke," he said.

A Lyon County dispatcher said about five people called reporting something in the sky and some reported hearing a "sonic boom."

Douglas County dispatchers said they received no calls.

Adam Kremers, a technician at Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center in Reno, woke up early Saturday to watch the shuttle pass over Nevada Saturday morning, but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

"It was spectacular. It was glowing and had a very orange color but I had no idea there was any trouble. I went back to bed at about 6 a.m."

His wife woke him up again at 8 a.m. and told him to turn on the TV.

"I have never seen a shuttle reentering before so I had no frame of reference. But I didn't see any parts coming off or anything."

Six Americans and one Israeli died as the shuttle reentered the earth's atmosphere following a 16-day science mission into space.


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