I slept very little during the night. The loss of the space shuttle Columbia and her crew of seven troubled my sleep. I dreamt of spaceflight, weightlessness, the Earth suspended below. They were our emissaries into a hostile and alien universe, scientists and explorers, pushing the edge of what our limited technology can accomplish. They paid the ultimate price for daring, like Icarus, to fly towards the sun. They sacrificed their lives not for war or conquest, but for knowledge and the betterment of mankind. I can only hope that this does not stall our exploration of space. Robot probes and satellites can return vast amounts of data, but the human experience is missing from those missions. That is what makes these expeditions important. We are pushing against the constraints of our species, our biology to explore space. That is what makes it important. William Gibson has a poignant comment on his blog: “…nobody ever said it would be risk free. If it were, it wouldn’t be glorious. And itï¿½s only with these losses that we best know that it really is.
Ad Astra Per Asperum
Spaceflight Now has a chilling image taken from a weather radar image showing the trail of shuttle debris falling over Texas.
I was just about to head off to bed at 1:00 this morning when I decided to check my games on Its Your Turn and see if I could squeak in a couple moves before I went to sleep. There was the headline on My Yahoo page – “NASA loses contact with Space Shuttle.” I clicked off the page before it really registered. My first thought was “solar flare activity or something knocked out the radio.” Then it hit me, they were coming back down this morning. God I hope it’s not what I think. Back to Yahoo and my worst fears were confirmed: The shuttle Columbia has broken up on approach to a landing in Florida. SpaceflightNow was tracking the shuttle mission in near real time and recorded a successful re-entry over the Pacific and that Columbia was performing the large S curves to bleed off speed before landing at Cape Kennedy. When contact was lost at 9:00 am EST, the shuttle was over 200,000 feet high and travelling 12,500 mph. At that height and speed, there was no possibility of using ejection seats. All seven astronauts are presumed dead.
I was listening to K-57 earlier this week and listened to Jeff Pleadwell talk about how he was tired of Guam. I’ve heard this from him before, but I guess he is really serious this time. He’s put the Pirate’s Cove up for sale on eBay. He must be bloody insane if he thinks he’ll get $5 million for that place though.
Guess I better head down there tomorrow and get a homemade burger or some fish kelaguen.