Thinking about these folks today …

It’s nine years since Columbia fell from the sky, ending the lives of Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon, David Brown, William McCool and Michael Anderson.

ANALYSIS: Drought Reveals Columbia Shuttle Debris

The accident also ultimately led to the end of the shuttle program, as the investigation team went beyond finding out what doomed Columbia — foam falling off the fuel tank during launch — and made recommendations for the program’s future.

The final flight last year fell during President Obama’s watch, but it was the result of a decision made during the previous administration that sealed the shuttle’s fate and landed America where it is today — without the means to fly people in space.

ANALYSIS: Legacy Space Worms Flying on Shuttle

Of course, there are plans to restart U.S. human spaceflight with a new commercial sector and by the government as well. But especially for those of us living on Florida’s “Space Coast,” it’s awfully quiet in the gap.