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Space Shuttle

Been thinking a lot about 1986 today, for obvious reasons. When the Challenger exploded, I was a 15-year-old 11th grader, sitting in my photography class (which was second period, if I remember correctly). Our teacher was a NASA nut, and so he had reserved the A/V equipment for the morning, and we were all watching the take-off on the tv. My first thought when I saw the smoke was, "Was that supposed to happen?" None of us immediately realized that something had gone wrong.

In the days following, I compiled a scrapbook of articles about the Challenger disaster (which I still have). Christa McAuliffe's death really affected me, because I was planning to become a teacher myself, and when I was a child I had wanted to be an astronaut. I had been following her progress toward the mission with great interest. Also, one of my favorite teachers that year had also applied to fill that space on the mission, the first teacher in space. That somehow made it all more personal for me.

Today's disaster did not feel as personal. After 9/11, this seemed relatively innocuous. As I mentioned to Shannon, everyone in every job makes mistakes; unfortunately, at NASA, their mistakes frequently result in deaths. But there's no way to eliminate all possible mistakes. More people die in many car accidents than died in Space Shuttle Columbia. I'm not trying to downplay the astronauts' deaths, because all such deaths are unfortunate, but I don't see it as a huge horrible tragedy. Maybe that means I'm cold. I don't know.

I must admit that my immediate concern was for NASA. My immediate gut reaction was fear that the space program would receive harsh criticism and possible loss of funding.

I find myself wondering if that 15-year-old kid in 1986 has become a jaded 32-year-old woman who doesn't even flinch when people die.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2003 11:37 pm (UTC)
you know what... i think i feel that way too.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 12:21 am (UTC)
me too? and you know what? At least in my experience I find it's better that way. The way I see it the less things I can find to worry about, the better. And letting world events that I have no control over affect me too deeply doesn't exactly do wonders for my emotional health.

So cold? Hardly. Healthy? I'd venture to say so.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 01:21 am (UTC)
Perhaps it just feels cold to me in comparison to how I have usually felt about such things in the past. But, then, I have a history of being intensely personally affected by things that happen to other people ... it tends to feel as if it happened to *me*.

Perhaps, in fact, this is a sign of me developing better boundaries, so that my emotions are not quite as rawly vulnerable to everything that happens in the world around me.

An interesting thought.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 12:25 am (UTC)
9/11 and before it the Oklahoma City Bombing really put into perspective what a disaster is. I'm very sad that 7 healthy people who lived for science & discovery died today, but I'm sure at least that many scientists and discoverers died on 9/11 and maybe in Oklahoma too.

The 2 years after the Challenger in which we didn't fly any shuttles was very sad, but mainly a result of the cost-cutting and falsifying of reports that had been going on at NASA to keep within their budgets. Unless there's a lot we're not hearing today I think NASA will be moving ahead a lot faster this time.

Astronauts are definitely signing up for a dangerous profession where there lives are in danger, and I have a lot of respect for them for that reason. But I'd say the same for firemen, police officers, and even teachers at rougher schools. And a lot more than 7 firemen, police officers and teachers have died in the line of duty since 1986.

Though I can say that, I was also very shell-shocked today when my friends came over and turned on the TV and I saw what had happened.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 07:19 am (UTC)
but mainly a result of the cost-cutting and falsifying of reports that had been going on at NASA to keep within their budgets

This comes at a time when NASA Administration is being praised for turning their budgets around.

Hopefully it's not a repeat of the Challenger.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 12:58 pm (UTC)
I dunno, I kinda feel like NASA can only do so much, we have to blame ourselves for underfunding NASA. The space shuttle was at least 30 years old! Think of all the technology that has been developed in that time. And NASA has to beg for more funding. The person in charge of the NASA committee in Congress (initials are D.R. I think) isn't even a scientist. This person still believes we should try to nuke an asteroid if it is going to hit Earth. And he gets to make the final recommendation to the pres. Great.

I hope this accident was truly an accident and not because of old technology. Cause then 7 people died because fancy toilet seats ib Airforce 1 were more important than scientific discovery.

Boy, I'm more bitter about this than I thought....
Feb. 2nd, 2003 07:03 am (UTC)
Cold? I don't think so.

People just have their own way of dealing with things.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 11:16 am (UTC)
If I had been watching the launch or the return
respectively in these two sad events I may of well felt differently. But learning after the fact and that going up in space though well still cool and amazing I think it was not like landing on the moon. I am not explaining this very well. I agree that space is a frontier and as humans we have this unquenchable thirst to conquer yet there is so much that our planet needs we need to heal this world first.

There can be nothing greater than doing what you love and getting paid for it. These astronauts were living a dream and they knew the risks and strived to do it anyway. That is really being alive as compared to merely living. I salute those who risk. Sad they had to die though. I am sure if Larry King could interview them in the afterlife they would all agree to take the risk again without hesitation.
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