Well, by now, everybody probably knows that the shuttle Colombia and all crew has been lost. I’ve been wandering around trying not to cry for most of the morning, but it’s mostly a losing battle.
All that I can think of to say is the usual protests in defense of NASA, which I have enormous respect for–space flight is extraordinarily dangerous by it’s very nature, and the fact that in 42 years we’ve had what–three?–fatal incidents is staggering. NASA’s safety record is astonishingly good. What I remember about the Challenger was how badly it set back the space program, and I pray to whatever forces watch over manned space flight that it doesn’t happen again. If people in Congress use this as yet another excuse to gut NASA’s budget…well, it’d be a bloody poor sort of memorial.
The only thing that keeps me from total despair on that front is that other countries, like China, are actively working to develop a space program, and while the U.S. government won’t lift a finger these days to fund space flight for it’s own sake, the money will flow like wine to make damn sure that we’re the top dog. I don’t know much about the space programs in other countries, but I wish them all the luck and speed possible.
For the loss of human life today, it’ll take better people than I to say anything useful about it. There’s never enough brave people in the world, and losing so many in such a fashion hurts us all.