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Balanced fine upon a pillar of fire, you flew
Up, beyond the sky’s familiar blue
Up, and out into the black void of space
Up, to loft above gravity’s embrace
And the world below turned slowly
While a hundred billion stars scrolled past your face.
Your sojourn in high orbit done
You dipped your nose and began your homeward run
Down into the fragile azure bubble of life-giving air
But tragedy struck, and you became a flare
That lit the sky above your homeland so wide
As you broke apart, and burned, and died.
O Columbia! Farewell! Farewell!
You and your crew will in our hearts forever dwell,
And your long service, your journeys to the realm above
We will recall and celebrate with gratitude and love.
Your sacrifice will teach those who still seek your Holy Grail
To ensure no other mission ends in a long and fiery trail.