Well, I got up this afternoon and read my email. I found out that the Space Shuttle Columbia had broken up over Texas while coming in for a landing. This is a tragedy and as I write this the major networks are running news coverage of the incident similar to the events on September 11, 2001. It is unfortunate that all seven crew members were lost.
One can’t help but wonder what affect this will have on the future of the American space program. It certainly makes some of the decisions made by the US administration and NASA itself to scrap various technological programs to replace the space shuttle engines appear extremely questionable. There is no doubt the event is extremely expensive, both in cost of human lives and in material cost.
If only one thing good comes from this, I would hope that it would be that resources are put back into bringing the space shuttles up to modern technology rather than the thirty year old technology currently in use. It is abundantly clear that this is necessary as this is not the first shuttle to be destroyed. I am, of course, referring to the Challenger disaster more than a decade ago.
The following weeks will provide us with information about what actually happened. Until then, we cannot know what really happened. However, my heart aches for those who have lost family members. I genuinely hope that this loss is not in vain.
February 1, 2003, 13:38 Mountain Standard Time