Thursday, February 7, 2013

NASA Remembers

Did you know it's been 10 years since the Columbia accident?  Ten years.  Wow.  I still, very distinctly, remember the moment I saw on the news that the shuttle had burned up on reentry and thought of those brave astronauts.  Less than two years later, I became a member of the team that was responsible for making sure the heat shield on the vehicles never failed again.  The space program has become a part of me (I still say my job working on the shuttle program is the best job I have ever and will ever have) and I have become a part of the space program.  And being so involved in it I can tell you, there is a LOT of risk.  Those astronauts are climbing into tiny pressurized cabins strapped to explosives, the vehicles seeing over 3000 degrees in some places, all in the name of science and discovery.   And once they get up to the ISS, they are completely reliant on canisters of air and technology for their life support.  That's it.  These are brave individuals. 

Obviously NASA has learned from their mistakes over the years.  They've improved and gotten better, which in turn has allowed the technologies filtered down to the rest of the population of Earth to improve as well.  But it wasn't without loss.  Increasing the awesome has come at a price.  Last Friday, NASA had it's national Day of Remembrance for the astronauts that gave their lives for science and discovery:

(picture from here)

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