|01-28-2006, 04:47 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
CAPE CANAVERAL - -- The weather was bitter cold, the skies were crystal blue, and a New Hampshire schoolteacher was poised to make history 20 years ago today as Challenger blasted off from Kennedy Space Center.
Thousands of school children were watching on television around the country. The immediate families of the seven astronauts onboard were on the roof of the Launch Control Center as rolling thunder rippled across the marsh.
Then "it happened. The unspeakable happened. Standing there together, watching with all the world, we saw the shuttle rip apart," June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of mission commander Francis "Dick" Scobee, recalled in "Silvers Linings, Triumph of the Challenger 7."
The shuttle's twin solid rocket boosters "went screaming off on their own separate paths, the orbiter with our loved ones exploded in the cold blue sky; like our hearts, it shattered into a million pieces," she wrote.
"In stunned silence, we looked to each other . . . for answers, for information, for hope . . ."
Rodgers, her son, Richard Scobee, and the commander of NASA's first post-Challenger shuttle mission -- Rick Hauck -- will gather at KSC today to remember the people who lost their lives that day.
"They were wonderful human beings," said NASA mission specialist Barbara Morgan, who served as backup to "Teacher-In-Space" Christa McAuliffe and later became the agency's first "educator astronaut."
"They were mothers. They were fathers. They were sisters. They were brothers. They were daughters. They were sons," she said.
"They were friends. They were teachers in that they shared their love of learning, and they were explorers. And what they were doing is something that benefited all of us."
The remembrance service will take place amid what has become an annual period of reflection for those who work for NASA and its contractors.
It is a time to contemplate the sacrifices made not only by the Challenger crew but by three astronauts killed 39 years ago Friday in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire and seven astronauts lost three years ago next Wednesday in the Columbia accident.
"This is the time to think about those kinds of losses," said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who was an 18-year-old college freshman aiming for a future in the space business when the Apollo 1 crew perished.
Griffin counted many of the Challenger astronauts among his friends, and he also knew most of the Columbia crew.
And when he contemplates their deaths, he recalls a book about the early days of the global air transportation system: "Fate is the Hunter," by Ernie Gann.
"In that book, when you open it up . . . Ernie has a small salute to the people who didn't make it -- page after page after page of flight crews who didn't make it," Griffin said.
Today, the chances of dying in a major airline crash are about the same as being killed by a lightning strike.
But the development of the world's most reliable transportation system "was gained only through many, many losses," he said.
"And I think that that is the perspective with which we have to look at our losses in spaceflight. We are, as fallible and flawed human beings, trying very hard to learn how to do something which is very, very, very difficult to do," Griffin said.
"It is difficult, it is dangerous, and it is expensive given the technology that we enjoy today . . . and the losses that we have sustained so far reflect the difficulty of the challenge and our limitations as human beings."
The mistakes that led to those losses taught aerospace technicians, engineers and managers how to make a perilous pursuit incrementally safer.
The Challenger astronauts were killed after hot gas burned through a rubber O-ring seal between segments of a solid rocket booster, triggering an explosion 73.6 seconds into flight.
NASA redesigned the boosters, and 178 of the revamped solid-fueled rockets -- or two per shuttle mission -- have flown without further failure.
"The solid rocket booster of today has, in my estimation, the best record of any spaceflight component that we currently use," Griffin said, and new rockets to launch astronauts and cargoes on solar system expeditions are being based upon them.
Shuttle boosters "will be a valuable component as we push out beyond low Earth orbit to return to the moon and go to Mars," he said. "And we got that from the Challenger crew."
Make no mistake about it. Griffin is certain that there will be future space tragedies.
Some of those who carry out expeditions to the moon, Mars, asteroids and other celestial destinations will be killed as astronauts explore and exploit the solar system.
"I know that in the course of this, there will be other opportunities to learn. And they will be sober opportunities surrounded with black crepe. But we will learn in the same way that the nation and the world learned how to do air transport. And it will be difficult," Griffin said.
McAuliffe understudy Morgan, her husband and two teenage sons lived through the Challenger and Columbia accidents, and she said the family has come to terms with the dangers inherent in space exploration.
Consequently, Morgan said she would have no qualms climbing aboard the shuttle for her first space flight -- an International Space Station assembly mission tentatively set for launch in the spring of 2007.
"That's not to say I'm not going to be very alert on the launch pad," she said. "But we've weighed risks. We've looked at the pros and cons. We know that what we are doing is important, and we know why it is important.
"Spaceflight is risky. It always will be. People are human beings, and they make mistakes. Those are two facts of life that will never go away. But the lesson is to work as hard as you can to try to minimize all of that."
|01-28-2006, 08:46 AM||#2|
Horse Player and Dimwit
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Houston, TX
One of your most coherent posts, mock, but I'm having trouble locating any reference to Beezlebub in it.
|01-28-2006, 10:37 AM||#3|
lost in the ether
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The 'cuse
Just me thinking here (ya, it hurts) that was a cut and paste job which explains (a) the coherence & (b) the lack of Beezlebub remarks.
|01-28-2006, 04:31 PM||#5|
Dallas biggest Bronco fan
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: They've done studies you know.... 60% of the time, it works every time
First I thought this was going to be about the Dodge Challenger! Good looking new car if they do come out with it.
Sad those people lost their lives.
Last edited by hades; 10-18-2013 at 06:02 PM..
|01-28-2006, 05:54 PM||#6|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Topeka, KS
I was in my high school library when it happened. It was something I'll never forget seeing on the television. The sacrifices these seven astronauts made altered the course of the space race forever. We didn't send another rocket into space for about 2 1/2 years after that while we did safety checks. Who knows how many more lives would have been lost if this defect in the o-rings wasn't exposed. God bless the crew of the Challenger. They are true heros in my book...
Last edited by Crushaholic; 07-31-2006 at 03:32 PM..