Space Shuttle Columbia from Start to Finish
By : N. C. Syminghton February 6, 2003
Streaking across the sky above North Central Texas shortly after sunrise, the Space Shuttle Columbia is minutes from touching down onto the Earth's surface when disaster intervenes. Over the years, the space program in the United States has continued almost unnoticed by the general public and the media. But on February 1, 2003 around 8:00 am CST, another tragedy reminds us of the grave risk inherent to human space flights. It was 17 years ago, January 28, 1986 at 11:38 am EST, when the Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crewmembers on board.
For many astrologers time and timing are an obsession. Knowing the exact moment an event occurs makes all the difference in forecasting its future and analyzing its past. While it is relatively easy to obtain the day, month, and year for a past event of significance, researching its exact time usually frustrates those who try. Fortunately, NASA and the Kennedy Space Center keep excellent records of the time of liftoffs and landings - and accidents.
Refurbished in 1997, Columbia had embarked on its 28th shuttle mission. Its history spanned nearly 22 years, averaging one flight nearly every nine months. The initial launch of Columbia (April 12, 1981 at 7:00:03 am) seemed like the right starting point to investigate astrologically why the shuttle disintegrated in what turned into its final journey.
The old saying, "In the end is the beginning and in the beginning is the end" remains a fundamental statement and premise of astrology. Very few astrologers in the West, however, possess the gift to discern the time of a final outcome based on the time an event starts or a life begins. That's ok. Most of us here would prefer not to know when our time runs out - whether that means the end of our life, the end of a valued relationship, or whatever else holds our attachment at the moment. So astrologers may have an excuse for speaking in generalities when it comes to prediction, especially if it concerns the termination of something a client wants continued.
A notable exception to the generalist trend, astrologer Rick Houck boldly circulated his predictions in the media, and he urged his fellow practitioners to do the same. He disdained imprecision in work and in thought. Mainly on record for predicting political elections (and almost always correctly) he would specify many other types of future outcomes to his private clients.
Applying the techniques that Houck details in his book, The Astrology of Death, I will show why the 28th flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia ended in tragedy and how it could easily have been predicted beforehand. To derive an accurate ending point, an astrologer needs the correct starting point, and the maiden voyage of Columbia provides that for several reasons. First and foremost, it has a precise time for liftoff. Second, the Columbia, one of several shuttles, has a long lifespan. Third, being the oldest, its initial launch begins the era of the Space Transportation System (STS), more commonly known as the Space Shuttle.
So let's take a look at the astrology of this catastrophe. Because this analysis involves components of both Western and Vedic systems, some material may appear unfamiliar. Therefore, I will start with a summary that highlights the salient features and leave the detailed version to the end for those brave readers who can withstand the full onslaught of astro jargon.
Notice in the "birth" horoscope for Columbia (date of first launch) that the Sun is almost exactly 180 degrees - or an aspect of opposition - to Pluto. This shows the powerful influence Columbia would make upon the world - not only on its first mission but also throughout its life. Since this flight started the STS or the Shuttle program, the aspect between Sun and Pluto reveals that the STS would fundamentally transform the space program of the United States.
This Sun-Pluto connection also suggests the likelihood of life-changing events that could permanently alter the identity of Columbia and STS. Since the planet Mars in the first launch horoscope also participates in the aspect between Sun and Pluto, the potential exists for a major accident, due to impulsive actions taken under significant duress.
All this alludes to potential or possibility. When can we expect such potential to manifest as reality? The potential of any birth horoscope, whether of a Space Shuttle or a person, will show most clearly during certain transits, progressions, or directions. These three techniques map future planetary positions in relationship to the planetary positions of the birth horoscope. By observing these dynamic relationships, a skilled astrologer can predict the occurrence of future events, or in looking backwards, why something happened when it did.
When death and destruction occur, almost always you will find the imprint of Saturn and/or Pluto. Both of them signify loss. See my article, Astro Perspective on WTC Attacks, for an insight into the pivotal role these two planets played in the September 11 attacks as well as in the birth chart of the United States. Also, see Saturn Opposing Pluto Leaves its Mark for a fuller treatment of these two formidable energies.
Indeed, as expected, they both assume major importance in the Columbia calamity. On the day of the disaster, a progressed Saturn had reached - for the first time in Columbia's 22-year history - an exact conjunction to Pluto in the first launch horoscope, and therefore, an opposition to Sun and Mars. These exact aspects by Saturn activated the potential for accident and loss from a life-changing event signified by the configuration of Sun, Mars, and Pluto. Also on that day and for the first time as well, progressed Pluto was at a position that allowed its power (for destruction) to manifest most fully.
The horoscope of the crash hints at possible sabotage or deception because Neptune, which signifies such activities, conjuncts the Sun and Moon, and all three oppose Jupiter. At the very least, a massive miscalculation likely occurred or a critical oversight. According to this horoscope,
Now let's dig a little deeper into the unique astrological signature of that fateful day by first describing and labeling some terms. Secondary progressions - based on the movement of the Sun - equate one day to a year. Since the Space Shuttle Columbia was almost 22 years old, you look at the planets' positions between 21 and 22 days after launch (May 3-4, 1981) to determine the secondary progressed positions.
Tertiary progressions - based on the movement of the Moon - equate one lunar month to a year. Moving faster than secondary progressions by a factor of 13, this method provides more activation times than the much slower secondaries. Rick Houck in his writings has demonstrated convincingly the application of tertiary progressions for predictive work.
Abbreviating some of the elements that go into this analysis will make it easier to present the material and to study it.
SP = secondary progressed
TP = tertiary progressed
N1 = in 1st launch horoscope of Columbia
N2 = in horoscope of Columbia's crash
N3 = in horoscope of Columbia's last launch
Asc = Ascendant
MC = Medium Coeli or Midheaven
IC = Imum Coeli or Nadir
TP Saturn = 22.15 Libra
N1 Sun = 22.29 Aries
N1 Pluto = 22.59 Libra
TP North Node = 21.42 Capricorn
Not only was TP Saturn activating N1 Sun and Pluto within a degree of longitude, it also was nearly stationary in its movement - 2 days away or about 2 months in time based on tertiary progressions. Also, the TP North Node had backed into the configuration as well to form a grand cross. The Lunar Nodes represent karma we create in the past, present, and future. They add a fateful quality to the mix. Also, from a Vedic astrology point of view, Columbia was in a Mercury Dasa (main period) and Saturn Bhukti (sub period). The influence of Saturn, thereby, becomes even more significant at this time.
TP Pluto = 26.56 Libra
TP Venus = 26.41 Capricorn
N1 MC = 27.55 Capricorn
N3 Sun = 26.05 Capricorn
TP Asc = 27.57 Capricorn
The first set of factors shows a nearly stationary Saturn in an exact, and stressful, relationship to the identity (Sun) of Columbia. Here, we have TP Pluto at the exact day of its station aspecting a number of elements. At first glance, this seems a happy combination with TP Venus, N1 Midheaven, N3 Sun, and TP Ascendant closely conjunct each other. A completely stationary Pluto, however, squares all of them bringing to bear its full power to destroy. Also in the Vedic horoscope of the first launch, Venus is the maraka, or death-signifying, planet (Aries Ascendant). Being in exact square to a stationary TP Pluto alters the seemingly happy picture.
SP Sun = 13.45 Taurus
N2 Sun = 12.17 Aquarius
N2 Moon = 13.54 Aquarius
N2 Jupiter = 13.13 Leo
TP IC = 14.13 Taurus
This shows how the slow-moving SP Sun closely squares the nearly exact Sun/Moon Jupiter opposition in the horoscope of the crash of Columbia. By itself, this hardly seems threatening. The TP IC, however, which moves about one degree per month, can signify the end of a matter. So now the Suns of all horoscopes (N1, N2, and N3) show death from three perspectives - stationary TP Saturn, stationary TP Pluto, and TP IC. The extinguishing of the light (Sun) was inescapable.
For the Columbia and her crewmembers, this confluence of astrological elements pointed towards disaster and death from the moment she launched on April 12, 1981.
As I said earlier, this disaster was predictable, and therefore, it was preventable. Unlike a human life that never stops until death, a Space Shuttle flies periodically and for relatively short periods of time. Waiting until Saturn and Pluto had loosened their hold somewhat on the horoscope of Columbia could have saved seven lives and a Space Shuttle.
As the ancient Sumerians knew: We can alter our fate but not our destiny. A destiny of the seven aboard Columbia - just like a destiny of all human beings - is to die. As fate would have it, they died on February 1, 2003. Fate played its hand but no one was knowledgeable enough to play against it. What a shame and what a tragedy.
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