February 02, 2003

Tiles Coming Off Over CALIFORNIA?

If this is true, there were problems with the tiles before the shuttle reached Texas. I wouldn't be surprised if this observation of tiles falling off the Columbia over California are not confirmed.

As sad as it is to lose seven very dedicated human beings, it seems necessary for me to put this in perspective in my own grieving. Man is unusual among the rest of living creatures that have ever existed on this oddly habitable planet in that he is able to modify his environment beyond the pelt he is born in. He even seeks out parts of the planet where he is ill equipped to go, cannot go without dire peril to his life, and goes there, is drawn there by some imperative to explore.

Think of the lives lost on mountain summits, the depths of oceans, in experimental vehicles of all kinds, over the past 100 years. Thousands of lives have been lost in these endeavors to boldly go... In the space program, by far the most complex and challenging of all environments to test, explore and seek to conquor, we have lost only 18 directly in accidents related to space flight in the Apollo, Challenger and Columbia accidents. This is truly amazing. But none the less tragic when it happens.

Still, its important to keep this tragedy in context as bigger events unfold. What is lost is more than these lives. It is another huge blow to our self-esteem and a black eye during a time when the world is hoping to see something good come out of our country, looking for anything positive as an antidote to words and behaviors seen by many as contrary to what America has been all about now for 200 years.

It would have been a good to welcome heros home. The world could have used a small warm fuzzy moment. And yet it is entirely likely that, in a few months, we will be called upon to mourn the deaths of many thousand times the seven lost this weekend. I wish I did not see this space tragedy as a small, spectacular preamble to death on a grander scale. Save some tears. They may be needed elsewhere and soon.

Posted by fred1st at February 2, 2003 05:46 PM | TrackBack

Nicely said, Fred. I was a kid during the space race . . . just a toddler during the moon landing . . . and even through the child's imaginative prism it seemed immensely monumental . . . vaguely surreal and outlandish, even. It still blows my mind every time I really think about it. I also enjoyed the additional installments re: creosote (hee hee!), and LOVE your biology-type entries. That link to animal classes is just fabulous! I think I must be a BoZo wannabe.

Posted by: Artichoke Heart at February 3, 2003 03:55 AM

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