January, Winter, long

memories our hearts hold strong

beyond the human limits rising

all the spirits energizing

carrying us on

to another dawn

–Todd Cecilio @negativereturn

 

As we continue to promote the sciences and human space flight, the inborn desire to reach out and explore is in all of us. We, however, should not proceed towards the future of space exploration without keeping in our minds, and close to our hearts, the memory of those who have given their lives. The casualties suffered in manned space flight have led to the changes that would ensure the safety of the ones who would follow in their very same footsteps. With the understanding and acceptance of the immense risk involved, the dedication of the astronauts who paid the ultimate price cannot be forgotten.

 

Jan 27th, 1967–Apollo I

The Mission was given the designation Apollo I, in honor of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, pioneers who lost their lives in a fire that ignited in the Command Module mounted on the Saturn 1B, during a routine test. After this tragedy, critical design modifications and safety protocols were implemented that would allow the lofty visions of the Apollo program to become a reality. Despite the loss the Apollo I astronauts, their legacy lived on in the successes of the Apollo missions that were to come. The foundation that would demonstrate the potential of manned space flight was born.

 Apollo I

Jan 28th, 1986—Challenger, STS-51L

 By 1986, the novelty and excitement brought about by NASA’s new transport system had not yet faded among the public and the media, and fifty missions that preceded what would have been STS-51, had suggested that the shuttle design was safe and robust. All eyes were turned to the sky when tragedy struck, and this image has likely been burned into the memories of all those who are old enough to remember. The failure of an o-ring in one of the solid rocket boosters is well known to be the cause for the loss of the shuttle and crew.  Human innovation is not perfect. In this case, the lesson is the same. Trust must be granted in the face of disaster, for design flaws to be corrected, and for the ability to proceed towards the future with confidence in our space program.

 

 STS-51L

The crew of STS-51L:

Francis R. Scobee, Commander

Michael J. Smith, Pilot

Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist

Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist

Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist

Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist

Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist

 

 Feb 1st, 2003—Columbia, STS-107

The ability to for-see all danger that lies ahead will always remain unattainable. Countless forces beyond our control can act at any time, making a seemingly routine event result in an unimaginable outcome, as was the case with STS-107. The catastrophic loss of Columbia and crew, due to a breach in the shuttles heat shield during reentry, proves how fragile we are in the hands of nature.

 STS-107 Memorial

The crew of STS-107:

Rick D. Husband, Commander

William C. McCool, Pilot

Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander

David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1

Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2

Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 4

Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist 1

 

The endurance of the shuttle program has allowed for advances in manned space flight that otherwise would not have been possible. We have set up base camp in low-earth orbit, proving that humans can remain healthy and live comfortably, released from the magnetic confines of our home planet.

Our potential lies in plain view, beyond our beautiful glowing sphere, with a deep gaze into the vast blackness of space. With each new step we make in future space exploration, it is important to remember that the steps have been steep at times. Tribute must be paid to the individuals who have, and still do, put their lives at risk, enabling us to push the envelope and achieve the impossible.