Thursday, January 25, 2018

NASA Remembers

Today NASA remembers the 17 daring and courageous  astronauts who lost their lives during America's space program. Several NASA centers including Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida are holding observances for employees, family, and the public. 

Strangely, the loss of NASA personnel all happened days apart in the winter of different years (e.g., Apollo 1 fire - Jan. 27, 1967; Challenger explosion after liftoff - Jan. 28, 1986; and Columbia breakup upon reentry - Feb. 1, 2003). 

I was working at Johnson Space Center during the Challenger explosion and knew well several of the crew. Ron McNair's children went to the same preschool as mine and we chatted often when dropping off and picking up. Others, I worked with on mission planning. As everyone involved in the space program can agree, these deaths were personal losses. We shopped with, went to church with, commuted with, and served with these NASA heroes. I was still living in Clear Lake, TX when the ill-fated Columbia spacecraft and crew were lost. Grief revisited - for me and the nation.

Unfortunately, we often forget how dangerous space exploration is, but the rewards are multiplied a hundred fold or more via NASA science, medical, materials, and engineering spin offs. To me, these lost colleagues lived extraordinary lives and deserve our thankful remembrance. Go science!