Dawn is breaking on the morning of February 1, 2003, above West Texas. Suddenly the peace of the early morning is shattered by two loud bangs. The Space Shuttle Columbia is announcing its return home, causing sonic booms as it streaks across the sky at three times the speed of sound. The shuttle is speeding toward a Florida homecoming. But in an instant, onlookers below and controllers in Houston are stunned at what they see. Something has gone horribly wrong. The shuttle has broken up, vanished! Gone is its precious cargo of seven astronauts from around the world. Among them, Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel's first Astronaut. Also gone, an artifact that embodied the glory of the Shuttle's mission and the despair of its demise: a tiny Torah scroll --- smuggled into a concentration camp during the Holocaust; safeguarded by Joachim Joseph, a Holocaust survivor and carried into space by Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. It is a unique story that interweaves the heights of scientific achievement, the depths of a nation's cruelty, the private grief of a boy who came of age during the Holocaust and the public mourning of many nations in the aftermath of the Columbia Shuttle disaster. TVPG
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