Friday, January 27, 2012

Lest We Forget - Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia

Hey Space Placers!

This time every year I remind my readers of the 17 American astronauts that gave their lives in the pursuit of spaceflight. The crews of Apollo 1, Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia were killed on January 27, 1967, January 28, 1986, and February 1, 2003.

Apollo1 was on the launch pad in a full dress rehearsal when fire broke out in the Command Module and suffocated Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Challenger was in flight and exploded 73 seconds after liftoff while Columbia disintegrated on re-entry.

In each instance the cause of the disaster was found, fixed and as a result, made the successive flights safer. But we cannot forget that these lessons learned were at the cost of human lives. Today we see how an ocean liner can take lives in this modern age 100 years after the sinking of the Titanic.

Spaceflight and space exploration are a risky business. But the rewards of discovery  and furthering human knowledge are worth the risk. A new generation spacecraft - Orion - will need a new generation of astronauts willing to take the risks in he rent in their job. We can try to take as much risk as possible out of the equation but it will always be there.

Humanity needs to leave this planet to explore and colonize new worlds in our solar system, and perhaps someday, other planetary systems. To not do so, dooms the fate of mankind.

With each new mission and step forward, let us always remember those who gave their lives exploring the find frontier.

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Sky Guy in VA

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