Space shuttle Columbia tragedy
Posted by mwalimu (Joe McCauley) on Sat 1 Feb 2003 - 10:27
For those who may not have heard yet, the space shuttle Columbia, with 7 astronauts on board, broke up on re-entry from its 16 day science mission. It is unlikely there were any survivors. Long range photographs of the re-entry show clear evidence of a breakup, and witnesses near Nacogdoches and Palestine, Texas, have reported falling debris. Given the altitude and speed of the vehicle at breakup, it is believed unlikely to be a terrorist act.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the crew.
After hearing this morning's news, my mind went back 17 years and 4 days. I was employed by IBM Federal Systems Division in southeast Houston at the time. Though I was on a different project, NASA was our major customer at that location. Many of my friends worked on those projects, and many of my co-workers had in the past. Some of them were close personal friends of one or more of the astronauts who flew on the Challenger when it launched that morning.
I was and still am a huge fan of the space program. I had seen the Challenger once when the 747 it was riding atop made a refueling stop at nearby Ellington Air Force Base. When I heard the news that the Challenger had exploded shortly after liftoff, I was as shaken as I had been by any event in the world I'd ever heard up to that point in my life. Only one event since then (9/11) has shaken me up more.
The space programs were and probably still are the lifeblood of that community. I had met several astronauts, and attended the same church as some of them. The tragedy really hit home.
There are many others besides the crew's families who are being hit hard by the Columbia tragedy today. They are all in my prayers.
The first couple of times I read this my mind substituted "Challenger" for "Columbia" . I thought that perhaps I was reading of past events - not current ones.
Then, as I realized what had come to pass I found myself greatly saddened. Again we lost not only seven astronauts, but the dreams they carried aloft with them. Again we are struck down by this blow and left to wonder what the future holds for us in the stars. Again the song "Pillar of Hell" by Michael Longcor rings in my ears.
If only we put so much effort into exploration and discovery as we do into trying to start a war...
"If only we put so much effort into exploration and discovery as we do into trying to start a war..."
How about not talking politics in a grief thread?
ConFurence will again be at the Burbank Hilton, April 25-27, 2003. Visit http://confurence.net for more details on this and other events being hosted by The ConFurence Group.
"How about not talking politics in a grief thread?"
How about not mitigating my personal feelings in response to said grief?
It was a terrible tragedy, for the families and friends of the victims, for humanity, and for the space program.
I was too young to remember the Challenger explosion, but I've heard enough about it. It took two years and a few months before NASA was in space again.
This time I think it won't take that long, though. NASA already had plans for the shuttle's replacement, and the shuttle is 22 years old.
President Bush just spoke and said that the space program will continue. And it will.
This event falls at the worst possible time though, for both our nation and the space program.
The sad thing is, there's still some idiots out there who're saying it was a terrorist attack. Thier reasoning? "Because there was an Israeli on board"... This makes me ick...
Yes, Tlaren, I agree.
But I've heard somethign even worse where I live -- that the Israelis and Dubya purposely killed the astronauts to make a 'Jew martyr to exploration' (or something equally crack-brained) and thus get the US geared up for mayhem against the Arabs. Said theory coming from the mouths of people who (a) brag about their liberal politics and (b) blame the 'rich Zionist conspiracy' for everything.
And to think, when I was a boy, that kind of talk got you nailed for life as a pea-brained Nazi.
Ardashir (And Darrel, I apologize to you for dragging politics in here.)
We are not taking the news very well, I'm afraid. Most of our community is still in shock, and hearing about remains being found hither and yon isn't helping.
I knew one of the astronauts - David Brown. He was trained to operate the SRMS arm, and I met him by my simulator at the NBL. I later worked on the Zero Gravity Scale and taught him how to use our technology demonstrator and how simple the final product would be to use. He was a smart man and I remember him and Dr. Smith (who is also deceased now) trading a few puns back and forth.
My prayers nowdays are several fold; I pray for the families of the astronauts and all those touched by this tragedy. I also pray that this approaching conflict in the middle east ends as quickly and with as little loss of life as possible.
Reality is not only stranger than we think, it's stranger than we CAN think!
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