Saturday, February 01, 2003

"Is this a special on the Challenger? No? Oh my god.."


Let's start with the "Where were you when you heard?". I was sitting in the ski lodge at Cockaigne after eating lunch, waiting to go back outside. The tv was on across the room and they were showing Dan Rather and what I found out later to be amateur video of the shuttle breaking up. From where I was sitting, I thought it was an anniversary feature on the Challenger disaster. Even the picture of the Laurel Clark from a distance resembled Christa McAullife. When Kate and her daughter, Kyla, joined me at the table I mentioned that it looked like a special on the Challenger. As we walked out, I kept watching. I then saw the "special coverage" language on the screen and said "Wait." We sat down and watched what little they had at the time, including the gash in the earth from some of the falling debris. It was several hours later that I found out it was space shuttle Columbia. For the most recent story I have at this moment, visit this link. It has eyewitness accounts and includes links to biographies of the shuttle crew along with the video of the shuttle breaking up.

I felt sad about the event. I guess the way I look at it, is that the space program is lucky to have had so few tragedies like this. Not that it minimizes any of the crashes or explosions. We have lost great people in these accidents. Astronauts are real heroes. They risk their lives to go into an environment that is inhabitable to humans all in the name of science and a desire to further understand this vast universe. As a friend of mine commented, the space program is something that can get beyond politics. It's all to further science. Sure, there are politics around it. Just look at the 1960's with the United State's race to get to the moon before the Soviets. But I like to believe that space exploration is more altruistic.

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