If the media coverage was any indication, the breakup and destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003 was a major disaster, perhaps even a reason to question the relative benefits and costs of spaceflight. Were the risks to human life worth the gains? For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and associated teams involved in the recovery effort, the importance of the greater mission, space exploration, outweighed any particular risks.
The archives that bear his name reveal that Jerry Ross was a hard working student, was involved with many prestigious activates at Purdue, and regularly returned to his beloved Alma Mater. Purdue was a vital part of Ross’s life, equipping him with the skills and knowledge to become not only a record-holding, successful astronaut, but one of the best.