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Columbia Lost

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Damn, that sick feeling again. I knew something was up when I got in the car at about 12:45 PM and someone was on NPR talking in hushed tones about “structural stress,” “human error,” “pitch and yaw.”

For some reason I have been thinking a lot about the Challenger disaster a lot lately – it would appear that the price of a space program is periodic disaster, in this case 17 years almost to the day.

I wrote this in November about the Challenger:

    Technology is not infallible because people aren’t either. No system is people proof. Consider the Challenger disaster. If thousands of people, spending billions of dollars, can screw up a launch with that much at stake, nothing and no one is safe. I still can’t believe it. Every computer had a backup. Every system had triple safeguards and we still blew those poor people up. How perverse we are. We didn’t just blow up pilots and bureaucrats, who are used to that sort of thing: we blew up smiling, trusting, unsuspecting teachers and scientists. We held a national contest. The winner got blown up.

Seven lost including an Israeli: very concrete pieces of dreams falling from the sky over Texas. Space flight is never going to be “safe,” is it? – any more than any other form of human transportation.

They say there is no evidence of terrorism - it angers me so deeply that we have to answer that question now every time something goes wrong. Man, it’s been a grim year and a half, and with war looming, it’s only going to get grimmer in the short run.

Deepest sympathies to those lost and their loved ones – it’s just too sad.

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About Eric Olsen