Saturday, January 28, 2006

Where I was when Challenger died

In the Physics Department library, studying. There weren't many people there. The librarian actually came up to me and told me. The shuttle exploded on takeoff.

My first reaction, and I make no apology for it, was this will kill the space program. I was correct, too, because you can't really call this terrified-of-risk, barely-funded travesty with antique equipment a space program. The seven who died, I suspect, would agree with me. Look, nobody sits on that much liquid oxygen without knowing deep in your internal organs that death is a distinct possibility that day. They still did it because to them the risk of NOT KNOWING was worse. I grieve for their lives but I grieve more that their deaths seem to have been wasted.

When are we going to dream of the stars again?


Anonymous MCart said...

I was in the first grade. We'd been pulled over to the 2nd grade classroom to use the colour TV. There had been quite a bit of hoopla around the school that someone connected with education was going to go up. In fact only a few kids, maybe 5 of us, bothered to watch the launch. (the 'nerds' of course.) I think I won understatement of the year with "I don't think it's supposed to do that".

I don't recall a lot of the other kids really reacting to it. Just a general sense of dissapointment.

I'm not sure if it really 'hurt' the space program with my generation. I am in fact frustrated with the 'safety' paranoia of NASA these days. Of course, we don't want a track record like the Russians used to have, but we don't want the program to stagnate under bureaucracy either. Space exploration entails RISK, and piles of it.

I think as a nation, we've kind of lost a sense of that. Possibly too much Star Trek on Tv, where the bad guys always lose, and the emergencies can always be resolved in 45 minutes, and no one important dies.

7:58 PM, January 29, 2006  
Anonymous BillT said...

NASA's paranoid, but they're using safety as a smoke screen. The harsh reality is that the program is topheavy with bureaucratic bean counters and anemic from a dearth of engineers.

And judging by what passes for a safety program, NASA's hurting in for *qualified* professionals in that area, too.

2:38 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous BillT said...

Make that "hurting for *qualified* professionals"...

Ummmm--I just can't emphasize that enough.

Yup. That was it.

2:40 PM, January 31, 2006  

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