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Never Forget

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of one of the worst disasters in NASA history.  There have been others when we have lost several people, and even, ultimately, one where we lost people returning from orbit, but none of them touched us so deeply as that day.  That day, one of us was going into space.  That day, most of us watched as Crista McAuliff waved before getting on board the Challenger.  Teachers everywhere paused their classes so their students could watch.  This was a learning experience.

It turned out to be a very different learning experience than expected.  We learned to be scared.  We learned that Astronauts aren't safe.  That they can't be safe.  We learned that they are as mortal as we.

The nation pulled back after that.  Scared to make the same mistake again.  It took us three years to finally allow a new Shuttle to go up.  I remember sitting between college classes, listening as it did.  I remember crying because I was so relieved that this time, it made it.

We should never forget them.

The Shuttle is to space flight what Lindbergh was to commercial aviation.
— Arthur C. Clarke

Let's face it, space is a risky business. I always considered every launch a barely controlled explosion.
— Aaron Cohen, NASA administrator

This is a day we have managed to avoid for a quarter of a century. We've talked about it before and speculated about it, and it finally has occurred. We hoped we could push this day back forever.
— John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth, regards the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, the New York Times, 29 January 1986

All of a sudden, space isn't friendly. All of a sudden, it's a place where people can die. . . . Many more people are going to die. But we can't explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can't do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties.
— Isaac Asimov

We have to stay here and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, Einstein, Morobuto, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.
— Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5

The dream is alive.
— John Young, after landing the first Space Shuttle STS-1 at Edwards Air Force Base, 14 April 1981


Jan. 28th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
Good remembrance *hugs* It was a disaster that was pretty unfathomable. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see it happen live.

The quotes are very well chose, very beautiful. I am especially fond of Asimov and the B5 one. Also John Glenn whose words are very moving.
Jan. 28th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
I'm "lucky" enough to say that we weren't watching TV at the time. The principal came into our classroom to let us know. But TVs were on all over school after that. I can't recall if they let us out early or not, but I do remember being horrified by the news stories about it after... Until 9/11, no other tragedy effected me quite so badly.

:) I'm glad you liked them. At first, trying to find a quote, all I could find was Regan, and there was no way I was quoting that man. :P I'm glad I found as many as I did. And that Sinclair quote is definitely one of the best of the series. *nods*