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We shall never cease

STS-107 We shall never cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. -T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)


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Excellent quote, my friend. I'm speechless


touching. thank you

Not the right / flight crew... there was a Japanese dude (Ellison Onizuka) !

Thanks, Wil.

I was in my high school dorm room when I heard about Challenger. When I heard about this one the same feelings and songs popped into my head.

My prayers go out to crew and their families.

Very true. This is a learning experience, but we'll continue. Great quote.


Thanks for posting this. We have friends in the astronaut corps, although none were on board this morning. Still, we mourn the loss of this crew.

And we keep looking upward and outward!

Thanks, Wil. I've been feeling like I was 9 years old again ever since I woke up (which was half an hour ago, so I woke up right in the middle of this CNN coverage) and I've been trying to find some kind of quote to help me deal... I should have known to look to Eliot. Thank you.

I'm visiting outside Dallas right now...I swear to god I thought something huge had been bombed. Scary. And Guy, thats the one being shown on the news by NASA.

My thoughts and condolences go out to all their families.

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on friendly skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.
— Robert A. Heinlein, The Green Hills of Earth

May whatever gods they honoured send that their deaths are not the death of man's exploration of space...

Whoops, just checked news. Damn. My heart goes out to the families of the crew. Hail Columbia.

I just found out about it It's so tragic.

Touching quote.
It really brings the importance of the programme into perspective.



I woke up this morning to an instant message from a friend in Dallas talking about how she saw it happen.
It's so tragic, and my heart goes out to everyone affected, as I'm sure yours does too.

I honor the sacrifices that these seven people made for the cause of expanding human knowledge about the Universe, and Earth itself.

Let's hope like hell that in the following days that people will have enough decorum not to make or tell cruel and tastless jokes about this tragedy.

When I was 12 years old the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed. I became so interested in these brave people, astronauts, that I clipped nearly every article you can think of regarding the disaster and the space program. I became obsessed with the space program, went to Space Camp 3 times, got all the real manuals, checklists etc. It got me so interested in space and aviation I just knew I had to fly.

Flash forward to today. I am an airline Captain at age 27 and lucky as hell. Those 7 astronauts so long ago have so much to do with that. Then you wake up and it is happening all over again.

Let average Americans have no doubt, there are individuals who several times a year strap into the what represents the pinnacle of human scientific achievement, the ultimate vehicle of exploration, and one of the most dangerous things ever created. While we view the 30 second clips of successful launches and landings on the nightly news remember the incredible intelligence, desire, and bravery of the many at NASA espically their astronauts as they achieve what little boys and girls only dream of... and sometimes forget. Let's never forget the crew of STS-107 and their desire to show that sometimes dreams do come true when you attempt to achieve the impossible.

God Bless STS-107 and Hail Columbia! Godspeed.

It's so awful..I mean...to be just about home and all...and then this happens.

I was just shocked by the news. I wish them well on their journey to the afterlife and hope that they are at peace.

Honestly, I don't understand why everyone's in a tizzy over this. I suppose it's America's need to feel as though every tiny setback is a huge deal in order to make up for how wonderful things are for us (by comparison to most of the rest of the world) all of the time. Being an astronaut is a dangerous job, and NASA is as careful as it is because it's a dangerous job. If anyone ought to be surprised by anything, they ought to be surprised that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.


And most of us here, not me, not you, not even William fucking Shatner, will know how fabulous it felt to be those people in the days before they died.

Okay, maybe you -- but I'm too old by now. :)

(My reactions to it are on my own livejournal: http://mactavish.livejournal.com -- It's not all cogent, but I'm using the space to try to *get* cogent.)

I'm rather disappointed in myself. it seems that due to 9/11, I'm not phased by this. The closest I got to sadness was during the press briefing and O'Keefe broke up while talking about the families. In fact I'm rather pissed because this will kill the space program.

It's amazing to watch a dream actually go up in flames. These shuttles are so expensive and the investment involved is so formidable it just blows a hole in your heart to see so tragic an ending.
I'm especially touched by stories on the first Israeli astronaut. He is the son of an Aushwitz survivor and actually carried a drawing of the moon done by a 14-year old boy who drew it as a prisoner in Auschwitz. All the Israeli political commentators said he was the only thing these days that seemed to transcend the bloody trap of history the country has found itself in.
I know this should go without saying, but it just doesn't seem fair.

Very touching and appropriate quote, Wil. Thanks. When my mother called me this morning to tell me to turn the TV on, I couldn't believe it. In watching the news coverage, I'm instantly ten years old again and remembering the Challenger. I know, as someone pointed out, that space exploration is dangerous and that these people knew they were risking their lives, but it's still heart breaking to see something like this happen...especially when you consider how close they were to getting home. I can't imagine how their families must have felt. My heart goes out to the families of everyone in that crew.

My mom woke me up this Saturday morning, telling me the Space Shuttle was falling. This is all too much like waking up in January of '86 and turning on the radio to hear the Challenger was gone. Right now I'm feeling... Like I've had a fever and everything is sort of hazy and grey. I cry, I go to the gym, I listen to the radio, I cry a little more.

We have to keep flying in space, but we've got to get a more reliable system in place than the shuttle. There have been around 113 flights and two total losses, so we have a little under a two-percent total failure rate. Keep flying the shuttles, but please, we have to put a less failure prone, more modern, system in place, and we have to more beyond a system that is capable of only LEO flights. Don't abandon Station Alpha because of this, don't stop flying.

God bless NASA for doing its best. Their astronauts, families and technical people are the best there ever were. Godspeed Columbia.

Wow. Touching. Thank you for the quote, what a tribute. *going off to cry some more*

Thank you Wil.

My thoughts are with the families, and my hopes are that the space program will not be daunted.

This brings back so many memories of watching the Challenger takeoff in second grade. That is something I never wanted to relive. This is such a tragedy.

Well quoted Wil.

I got the news this morning when my friend called me up and told me what was happening and to turn on the news. I then called my parents and told them. This just brings back far too many memories of 17 years ago, although not quite as personally painful because this time I didn't know anybody on board. Still, it is a horrible tradgedy. But the seven brave souls knew the risks when the climbed on board and wililngly accepted them. They truly are among the most honorable people on earth.

Hail Columbia.

Very touching quote! A quote that really says it all.

very disappointed in James asking why eveyone is so broken up about this because we knew the space program was dangerous?
not to sound argumentative, but, what a jackass!

that's a kin to saying why mourn anyone when they die? We ALL die, right James?
Maybe when you die, James, no one will mourn you.
But that's just the way you want it, right?

No one is saying "HOW did this happen! They're saying "it's a SHAME it happened"


I'm old enough to remember the reports of the fire on "Apollo 0", holding our breath for the crew of Apollo 13, the look on Dan Rather's face that morning as it appeared on my tv and thinking "Challenger was supposed to go up today..."
It doesn't get any easier. Nor should it.
Beautiful tribute...thanks

Thank you Wil. I was woken up a little before 7 am Pasadena time by my boyfriend in Tucson calling my cell phone. Seeing as I work for NASA at JPL and Caltech, I know our thoughts are with the families of the astronauts who were lost. Even though I was only 4 and a half when the Challenger accident happened I remember that as well and immediately thought of that when I saw the video. . .

I can only hope the American people show the same resolve they showed post-Sept11...the right thing to do to honour the fallen dead is to get back to work...to make sure the things these people worked so incredibly hard for aren't lost because we are afraid to let it happen again...my thanks to those who have gone before, and my thanks to those who will take the next brave step back in to space...heroes, all...my prayers to the friends and family of the lost...

~Nothing Gold Can Stay~

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
~Robert Frost

Very nice, Wil.
I will say a prayer for them and their families.


Great tribute, Wil. Simple and dignified. These people are the best, and they push the envelope for all of us.

My heart is saddened as I'd hoped to never see another "tragedy" from our friends who travel and work in the Space Shuttle. A flood of memories has hit me because the loss here echoes that of "Challenger". I'm at a loss for words.

I remember seeing ST:IV The Voyage Home and the dedication to the men and women of the Space Shuttle Challenger. I remember holding back tears and being unable to think clearly for the first 20 minutes of the movie (which I would go and see 3 more times in the theater). I remember the tingling inside and the feeling of my hair standing on end - just as it had when I saw the news report - then, and now.

That was then and this is now, but the feelings and memories are flooding back and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the SS Columbia. With hopes and prayers for a future that will remember their efforts, I bow my head and cry for those who will miss them now.

In reflection,


5 days after the anniversary of Apollo...
4 days after the anniversary of Challenger...
This tragedy has rendered me speechless. :(

Thank you for the quote, Wil. It's beautiful.

Thank you, Wil.
We can only pray for the families, now.

Very well chosen

*I am crying again now* :(

I remember the date very clearly. January 28, 1986.

I was in my Grade 9 Social Studies class waiting to take an exam. My teacher came in the room and said, in an almost offhand manner, "the space shuttle just exploded." I thought that she was joking. After the test (I cant recall if I passed it or nor), we went to the gymnasium and got the news officially from the principal. I spent the rest of the day and evening watching the news coverage.

Later that year, I was sitting in a movie theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada waiting to watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and some text came on the screen that I will always remember:

The cast and crew of Star Trek wish to dedicate this film to the men and women of the spaceship Challenger, whose courageous spirit shall live to the 23rd century and beyond..."

It sucked then.

It sucks now.

May God bless the brave souls of STS-107.


I hope that people will honor the shuttle crew by celebrating their lives, knowing that they died doing something that they felt was incredibly important and beneficial to all mankind.

I remember the Challenger- at the tender age of 13.
Today is another sad day to but in the notebooks- as We all pause for a moment of silence and pray for the familes of the Crew- My heart goes out to them.
-Guy- that picture is the correct picture-

My prayers are with the families and friends of the 6 Americans and one Israeli who lost lost their lives today.

My prayers are especially with the country of Israel who today lost their first astronaut!

I am not old enough to remember anything about the Challenger other than vague images. Now, this falling shuttle has served to make me understand that piece of history of which I had very little grasp beforehand.

To address James: I think this is the way we should react when anyone dies, no matter what the conditions. We should not be used to death. Once we begin to be unfeeling on such a thing, then we lose our humanity. I agree that the newstations are sensationalizing this event to some extent, and am disappointed that this is truly seen as such a "profitable" tragidy. But let us never, ever become so heartless as to not react to tragedies. And you have an excellent point that we do not react to the tragedies of others as well as we should. I am not an american, but I share close kinship with them as a canadian. And this is a time to sit back and think of how lucky we are to have what we have. And despite this being a great tragedy, those people died living out their dream; how many more die daily simply because they do not have enough food?
Unfortunately, this event will soon fade and North America will again enter into the lifestyle of years past. We are all touched right now, but we should really allow this event to help us change how we live.
I greive for the families and friends. But I also send my heart out to the millions of families effected by other tragedies, those which we call common.

Want to apologize for my bad spelling. As many have already said, it is not a good day.

thank you Karina - your words are filled with intelligence and compassion. If only some of all the compassion and sympathy expressed today over this tragedy could be put into helping those who are still with us...starving, freezing and alone.

High Flight
by John Gillespie McGee, Jr.
No. 412 Squadron, RCAF

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds--and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of--wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Lord have mercy on those astronauts, and on their families.

I do not think that this will kill the space program. The commentators and callers on NPR's talk of the nation seemed to all consider this tradegy part of the cost of exploration, and some officials appearing on CBS also said that the space program will go on. (We can't take a couple of years off like we did in '86; we've got a manned space station now!)

I was stationed at Mayport Naval Station when the Challenge went down -- we could see the split vapor trails from there.

Was it Astounding/Analog's John Campbell who said that space exploration would mean the invention of new ways to die?

A few days ago, I re-read "Fallen Angels" by Mike Flynn, Niven, & Pournelle. And this morning I heard Dan Rather talking to some NASA suit about how many of us hoped to see a manned mission to Mars in our lifetime. The Nasa rep said that Mars had never been part of Nasa's mission. Dan Rather, who later mentioned that he had been at Rice when Kennedy gave his speech dedicating the US to the exploration of space, said about a manned mars mission: "Some of us still dream."

Vivat! the dream!

At 1pm today I had not turned on a television or listened to a radio all day. I was about to click on the TV when I stopped to check out WWDN. I first thought the picture was a tribute to the Challenger crew. Then I clicked on the link and looked at the date. Imagine my surprise.

gosh, it's terrible. i'm sick of death, death sucks, way too much death lately. i mean, 9/11, my dog Sweetie (although that may not really mean much to any of you, but it meant to world to me. i love her so much) and now this. *sigh* my love goes out to all the families. damn my idealistic mind! i hope everyone feels better soon!!!


Beautiful T.S. Eliot quote.. comforting and challenging. From what I've heard, the families who lost their loved ones this morning feel the same way.


In a tower of flame in Capsule Twelve,
I was there.
I know not where they laid my bones,
it could be anywhere,
but when fire and smoke had faded,
the darkness left my sight,
I found my soul in a spaceship's soul
riding home on a trail of light.

For my wings are made of tungsten,
and my flesh is glass and steel,
I am the joy of Terra for the power that I wield.
Once upon a lifetime, I died a pioneer,
Now I sing within a spaceship's heart,
Does anybody hear?

My thunder rends the morning sky,
yes, I am here.
The loss to flame when I was man,
now I ride her without fear,
for I am more than man now,
and man built me with pride,
I led the way and I lead the way
to man's future in the sky.

For my wings are made of tungsten,
my flesh of glass and steel,
I am the joy of Terra for the power that I wield.
Once upon a lifetime, I died a pioneer,
Now I sing within a spaceship's heart,
Does anybody hear?

"The Phoenix" by Julia Ecklar, c. 1983

Take a look at the ages of the STS-107 crew. They were in high school and college when we lost 51-L.

And they still wanted to go. And for five, they finally did on this trip.

How many of today's highschoolers and college kids are ready to take their place?

That was a very fitting quote for the tragedy that happened today. I was 13 when the Challenger tragedy happened, and never in my life did I think I would see something similar occur again. How sad... I've been crying and praying for the astronauts and their families all day. I don't think those brave men and women (who, yes, knew what they were getting into, but that doesn't mean they deserved to die) would want us to stop our space program. I think they would want us to continue to be the explorers that we are- I daresay some of them must have watched Star Trek, and looked toward a vision of the future that may turn out in a similar fashion. We must always continue to explore- to seek out new life and new civilisations- to boldly go where no one has gone before. Corny? Maybe, but it's a great way to live- and die. God bless the crew, and may we all be comforted knowing that they died doing what they loved most.
Love, Alicia

I'm a little too young to remember Challenger, but I do clearly remember the first launch after that and how big of a deal it was [especially with me]. I've realized today how complacent I have been regarding the space program and how afraid I became for it's future... no matter what happens in the next few weeks and months, this tragedy is a big setback.

"There's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars." -- Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5

I just don?t know what to say or how to feel about this, anger , shock and sadness. My thoughts are with the Crew, their family?s and the people and family?s involved with this mission and their own family?s. I hope this does not turn into a witch-hunt and there is no smoking gun this time. The danger is real with every space mission. They are all pioneers always pushing the boundary of what?s possible. Grieve, re-group , learn , continue? it is the only way to tribute these people. Lets also hope that we are getting closer to a new design space vehicle that does not carry the same dangers of the present.

Thanks for the fitting tribute. I needed something to open the gates...I was 9 when the Challenger exploded. The very same day, the school counselor was murdered a few yards from me. Worst day of my life, and so I wasn't letting this tragedy in. I think I have finally opened up, and can now honor these astronauts.
Thanks again.

from the "Navy Hymn" --

Eternal Father, King of birth,
Who didst create the heaven and earth,
And bid the planets and the sun
Their own appointed orbits run;
O hear us when we seek thy grace
From those who soar through outer space.
J. E. Volonte (1961)

Here's an alternative non-authorized verse (apparently there have been many such written) that I copied from another message board, which supposedly attributes authorship to Robert Heinlein. I do not know if that is true. I do know that I agree with the sentiment expressed.

Almighty Ruler of the all,
Whose Power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe,
O grant thy mercy and thy grace,
To those who venture into space.

I was in 6th grade when the World lost Challenger. I was in my science class and we were watching the launch on television. The idea was that we were to write a long report on the space program and the men and women who have sacraficed so much to make it possible. The original assignment was supposed to cover the program as far back as Project Gemini, and even back to Sputnik.

We didn't have to complete the assignment after the disaster. Instead the assignment changed to writing a tribute to the astronauts of Challenger, and to all of the people around the world who lost their lives persuing Mankind's dream.

That was actually the title of my tribute: Mankind's Dream

I only wish I could remember the words I wrote. It would again be fitting to the events of today.

I did get an A on the writing, but then, everyone did, because it couldn't be possible to give someone a failing grade on heartfelt words...

And to LittleGuy, you asked about how many high school or college students would be willing to take their place, well, the truth is, I don't know about them. But, personally, I would do it. In a heartbeat. I would like to think, thet given the chance, people around the world would do the same. I for one would be honored to follow in the footsteps of these great pioneers, doing as they did, persuing Mankind's Dream...

Thanks for the quote, Wil.

Like most, it immediately brought back the memories of the Challenger. All of those feelings return. My heart and prayers go out to the families of the crew.

When my thoughts naturally turned to the Challenger, and therefore to elementary school, they turned, again, to a song we used to occasionaly sing in those days. I looked up the lyrics, and found the last verse striking; perhaps I was looking too hard for relevance but I am drawn to it nonetheless. With those apologies (and any more wished for) offered:

These mighty men labored by day and by night
Matching their strength 'gainst the river's wild flight
Through rapids and falls, they won the hard fight
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.


Thank you Wil.

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on friendly skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

Robert Anson Heinlein, The Green Hills of Earth

I am in unashamed tears. We were watching the de-orbit burn here... argh... agony.... but we must keep launching... we must keep flying. We must.

I had only passed my second birthday when the Challenger trajedy occured. However through my love for space exploration, (eventually fueled by Star Trek when I was only ten), I learned what I could. In the aftermath of todays events I would still want to be the next person on on a space shuttle.

At first I didn't understand the tribute you put up this morning to the Columbia shuttle crew, and then I saw the news reports on CNN. Even though I wasn't personally affected by the Columbia trajedy I cried anyway. My heart goes out to everyone involved and I prey for their stregnth in the days to come.

From my weblog:

To the astronauts of Columbia and their co-workers and families.....

Super Hero's Don't Die, They Just Flyaway.....

Maybe from the brave crew of 7 and our loss we will learn. They have taught us that even though they all came from different backgrounds, cultures and religions they came together for the good of ALL man kind. They went in peace I hope we can do the same!
I hope we will keep the dream alive & continue to fund the space program. We should never lose sight of the fact that they were pioneers to a better future for ALL.

I've just heard about this and my heart goes out to the families of all seven of the crew members.

Tragedy really makes one stop in our tracks to think about life...

What a sad day for all of us.

I was in elementary school when we lost Apollo on the pad. I had just finished college, had my first "real" job when I turned on the TV and watched in disbelief as Challenger and her crew fell back to the Earth. This morning as I watched Columbia streak across the screen of my TV, I couldn't believe the loss of these heros.

Remember them always and keep them and their families in your prayers.


God Bless everyone in space travel and that they will have safer journys than these people. I hope they are with Him! thanx Wil for posting this!

Great quote. Wishing their familys the best as they deal with this tradgedy.


There are no words to express the feelings that well up within me when I hear such news. I can think of no comforting words for family, friends or colleagues. I can only say in all honesty that I will pray for them, while to some that may mean little it is all I can do. I cannot imagine their grief for it must be a infinity removed from the sadness and grief that I, having never met these people, feel.

When words fail,
At times such as these,
Draw close to one another,
Be there,
For one another,
For when words fail,
As they do now,
Can be a healer,
When held together in love.

Tragic. A week ago my students read a story about the Challenger. They weren't born at the time, but I told them I would always remember where I was when it happened...7th grade Math. Unfortunately, they will remember this day as well.

What annoys me is the Media trying to pinpoint this on terrorist actions. Damn you Murdorch News. Unfortunately, events like this will happen in our time, as no form of exploration is 100% safe. If it was, then we would not have see any advancements on the Roads, or Air, or even Naval travel. Hopefully the search will go on. It is a setback, a terrible setback, but we cannot allow one event to dictate the future. If we did we would never progress anywhere. I hope the journey
will continue.

Perhap's it's easy to say that as a European, as we have no real space travel program (I'm Welsh by the way)but i can only hope we learn from this grave mistake, and make our way into the future.

Sion B

"No grave or tombstone do they need, for their memory will survive
"As long as we fly beyond the sky and keep the dream alive."

--"Keep the Dream Alive"

If you ever dreamed of going into space, if you still want to visit Luna City before you die, if you believe that our species canNOT keep all its eggs on one planet, write your Congressional representatives and urge them to support the space program. All of our fallen astronauts, I am sure, would vigorously protest their deaths being used as an excuse for us to give up. Give them the only memorial worth having--a strong space program.

I have no fitting words. Only these...

It feel like i did when i was five and watching Challenger.

My heart goes out to the families of the shuttle crew and all those at NASA.

In the pursuit of science, knowledge and truth these people united for this common purpose.

They came from diverse backgrounds and overcame tremendous odds to gain their place on the shuttle and gave their lives for a program, an ideal, they believed in.

Although not from the US or Russia, the manned space programs always gave me inspiration and hope that something better can come from the stars and from the human endeavour to reach them.

Today this hope will not be dimmed.

It will shine on as it has always done, in their memory.

Thank you Columbia.

Best Speed.

I am old enough to remember Apollo 1, President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King (though I was very young... the images of Walter Cronkite on CBS explaining how JFK was killed remains as one of my earliest memories).

I've often dreamt of space travel, and was at the unemployment office on January 28, 1986, having been laid off from my dream job (in commercial art) the day before. I let a lot of dreams go to the wayside that year....

Now when Littleguy hopes and asks about who will take up the mantle... I hope everyone who can will.

We never thought to worry about space shuttles until Challenger exploded... then we had it brought to us again. The seven folks who were on Columbia today were fully aware that things aren't always perfect and they still wanted to be able to experience something less than 500 people on this entire GLOBE has done... to be weightless and work for our world from space.

We never thought to really consider how dangerous the job for police, fire and rescue workers was until 9/11 -- when they were just doing their job no matter the risks... now we painfully remember every time we hear a siren or see a police car or fire truck buzz by.

We never thought re-entry was dangerous for the shuttle, but as I reminded my co-workers today, we have been flying with 22 year old technology.... hoping that the old work horses would fly no matter what, with every administration since Nixon cutting NASA's funding and mission.

We must continue to aim for the stars... our future is still there.

I only wish I were young enough to restart my dreams that I always wanted to have lead me into space.

Those of you young enough to rekindle your dreams no matter what it is... don't forget to do it... you will never regret your life and you will serve others, no matter what the dream.

Godspeed Columbia and my condolences to their friends and family.

-- B. Martin
Corpus Christi, TX

The following is na extract from my blog, but I think is relevant to this discusion and as such, I'll post it here as well. These are my thoughts on todays accident. I haven't gone in to depth eulogising (sp?) the crew, there are people more skilled that can do that better.


My condolences go out to all those directly effected by this tragedy, but I also have a sense of grief for all of us. While my thoughts should really stay with the families of the shutle crew, they can't help but rush ahead to what this means for all of us.

NASA's fleet of shuttles is aging, Columbia first flew in 1981 (over 20 years ago). Most of us would not keep a car this long, far less something as advanced and as complicated as the shuttle. Recent years have also seen NASA's run in to funding problems. If these problems have contributed to this disaster (and I do consider this a disaster) then the future of the fleet will surely be called in to question, and with it endevours such as the international space station and any future manned mission's to the moon (or in the more distant future Mars).

If NASA can't financially support its fleet of shuttles then they may have to be shut down (or at the very least reduced in numbers). While the crew excepts a certain risk on a shuttle mission, this is a risk backed up with the best safety and security money can buy. If we can't afford the best we can't ask the crew to risk themselves, it would be wrong to do so.

You could make an argument that sending a man or woman in to space isn't really necessary, that enough of the tests they would run could be automated and the argument may well be valid. But to me there is another side to sending people in to space. It represents an achievment, something near impossible that the enginuity of mankind has overcome, to retreat now back to unmanned satalites would be to admit that we aren't ready to play out there. We are allways reading news articles about new discoveries in space (from looking back at the begining of time to the search for other habitats that can support life, from the serious to somewhat gimicky), these articles help show us that were not all there is, they give us a sense of wonder.

To me space is an extremly personal experience. It is unlikelly I will ever go there, but I dream about it. Endless open vistas stretching before my imagination, fuelled by the facts scientists discover. If people of different nationalities and genders can get along in a cramped space station then it can't be impossible for us to do the same on earth, where we have more space to spread out and be ourselves. That sounded a little trite, but I hope you can understand what I mean. Space is a golden horizon that pulls many of us onwards, making us strive to end up in a world society that values and desires to explore and utillise (but not exploit) the oportunities it can give us.

In short, NASA (and its equivalents across the world) need more money not less. If america can't support its shuttle fleet, we'll all loose. Sounds a little one sided, perhaps its time other countries tried to help America (or one of the other space faring nations) financially. I would support a small increase in my taxes to support space exploration and research as long as all this research went in to the public domain

I was in tears and shock this morning when I heard the news. I'm from Australia, but space exploration has been at the very centre of my life since I was born. However, I've been deeply gratified to see just how many people support the space program and what it represents, not just to our friends in the US, but to the people of the world.

guy, Onizuka was on the Challenger.

My thoughts and prayers go to all the family members effected by this tradegy.

......and know the place for the first time
through the unknown, unremembered gate
when the last of earth left to discover
is that which was the beginning;

at the source of the longest river
the voice of the hidden waterfall
and the children in the apple-tree
not known, because not looked for
but heard, half heard, in the stillness
between the two waves of the sea.

quick now, here, now, always--
a condition of complete simplicity
(costing not less than everything)
and all shall be well and
all manner of things shall be well
when the tongues of flame are in-folded
into the crowned knot of fire
and the fire and the rose are one.

--t. s. eliot
from the close of his Four Quartets

it's on my closet door, this quote wil gave to all of us again. a few years ago on thanksgiving, a company took out a full page ad in the local paper, and all that appeared there was the poem. so i saved it. it rings, now.

even so
te deum laudamus
dona nobis pacem

fitting tribute, Wil.
Thank you.

when the challenger went, i was about three weeks out from my 16th birthday. We watched it in my 1st period social studies class. We watched it blow up. Imagine a class of 40 kids, stunned into silence. For the entire day. We'd open our mouths to say something, and nothing would come out. A choking sound, a whining sound, the sound of speechless shock.

And the loss of Ramon. The loss of Petr's picture. The loss of a torah that survived Bergen-Belsen. On top of the other six- gods, what an utter shame. L'Chaim!

I am typing From Australia,and we had an experiment on the shuttle to do with spiders and there effect on them spinning a web in space,this was run by a high school about 10 minuits from were i live..We here in Australia are deeply saddened by what happened

It is a crying shame, that the countries of this world can not put their petty differences, endless bickering, and senseless grudges aside, even if just for a little while, and concentrate all of their combined efforts, talents, and intelligence on a common goal, with that goal being space exploration and colonization, and bringing to life the very dream of our friend Gene Roddenberry, God rest his soul, to a reality. Infinite possibilities in infinite diversity was one of the defining visions in the Trek universe, and while much of the technology in the show most likey could never be possible in this lifetime, at least the founding principles of cooperation and diversity could be achieved. These 7 astronauts, just like all of those before them, and all of those that will follow, for a brief instant in infinite time, set aside all of those differences and worked together to achieve something wonderous, something that many of us on this Earth today will only be able to dream of. And it is these people that we, not as Americans or Canadians or any other nationality, but as members of Humankind, should strive to be like in everything we do, from the simplist tasks to the most complicated endeavors. It will be then, and only then, when the people of this world will be able to achieve things more wonderous than we could ever imagine...

My life is so pathertic and sad, I need to make myself feel better by mocking the grief of others. Please pay attention to me.

In Robert Heinlein's early work "Requiem," the hero dies in a successful voyage to the moon. He is buried on the lunar surface by companions who have no grave marker other than a shipping tag for a compressed air cylinder. When Mr. Heinlein died, he was, according to his instructions, cremated and his ashes scattered at sea from a US Navy warship. Some feel it would be appropriate to honor him by placing a pint of seawater and a shipping tag, inscribed with RL Stevenson's "Requiem" (which follows), on Mare Imbrium.


UNDER the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

And yes, "bastard," you are one indeed.

Thank you for the kind words Mr. Wil Wheaton. Reminding me to enjoy all of life's joys and discoveries day by day because others have died so that I may do so.

I don't know about anybody else...but I want to be up amongst the stars some day. Dare to dream dare to imagine...then do it!


Thank you for the fitting words; God Bless the
souls of the Columbia Crew.

As for the seven-letter word who wrote in at 6:13pm-consider the source-not worthy of being on the same page as the magnificent souls lost in the atmosphere today.

There are just no words.....

Know it's been said, but very good quote Wil. I go to Virginia Tech and have a psyc teacher that tells us that every class "so we can expand or horizons." It's very true and touching in this instance. Thanx

A very touching and appropriate tribute, Wil. Thank you.

I truly cannot find the words to express my sadness regarding this tragedy. So many horrible things have been happening in the world lately that I hesitate to turn on the news for fear of what new tragedy may be unfolding.

Then this happens.

For me, the space program has always been an inspiration - a glimpse of what the future might hold for us all. When all else in the world seemed bleak, I could turn my eyes skyward, where people from different nations worked together with a common vision.

Truly a sad, sad day. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone touched by this tragedy.

Remembering David Brown, William and Mary class of '78. One day someone will step foot on Mars, and we will remember your dream.

i thought the president had a good quote:
"The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home." - GWBush.
i'm not much of a fan of his but this line had me bummin'.

cheers, wil.


I had the unfortunate circumstance of spending
the day homebound.

I saw the whole specacle live - start to finish.

NASA engineers spoke of telemetry indicating
astronouts on board knew doom was looming for at
least 5 solid min. before the .....

I'll never be the same.

I was 18 months old when Columbia went on her first mission. I sat in front of the t.v. with my mother and watched her take off.
Then other shuttles joined her: Challenger for a time, Endeavor, Atlantis and Discovery. A family of five sisters.
I know some of you may think me strange to ascribe human attributes to machines, but, to me, these shuttles are just as important as the humans they carry. And as of late, they have not been treated with much respect. Ophios made a wonderful point about how NASA has had to deal with funding issues. Politicians talk about how important the space program is, but never seem to want to put in the required maintenance. And if you don't take care of something, be it man or machine, it will fail you eventually. Today, one of the men who piloted Columbia described the shuttle as a "butterfly on a bullet". These shuttles are butterflies in their complexity and design and hopefully this tragedy has reaffirmed how well they must be treated in order to bring our people back safely. I also pray that Washington will help in this effort by allowing the space program more funding so that no more families will lose loved ones and Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis won't lose another sister.

"You treat her like a lady, and she'll always bring you home."
-Dr. Leonard H. McCoy to Lt. Commander Data on the Enterprise D

I am speechless shock and sad and especially sad about the people who go to ebay and sell the debris and ebay allows it to me its disrespectful and cruel and rude.I hope when we get to mars that they be honor on that mission or something. I aint a fan of bush but he did a good job when he gave his personal speech today. I was 9 when the challenger blew up in jan 28 1986 and it just brings bad memories back and I sat in front of the tv and saw it blew up so it amazes me that after set 11 we have another big loss and hope the space program will move ona nd get back into space soon.

What happened? I mean what the hell just happened? Its a rhetorical question honestly. I just I dont know what to think or say. They were interviewed I believe a few days ago I saw it on tv. The wierd thing is I never watch it. It never really interested me, but for some reason i was glued when i saw it. The first Israeli Astronaut. I thought it was awesome. I am not Israeli or know much about that culture but I felt proud for some reason. It was a great accomplishment. when people succeed in dreams like that even if you dont relate, you feel a sense of pride because they did something that they dreamed and are living what was in their head all those years. Its a goal we all have and that is where the relevancy to our lives is. The first Indian(Indian American I belive forgive if I am wrong I cant remember somehow) woman in space. It was her second time up there but still its a great thing. I think i was glued to the interview because of her mainly cuz she reminded me of a friend from years ago.
Something this tragic shouldnt happen. Unfortunately no matter how much it SHOULDNT happen these tings do happen and it hurts immensely. I cried today when i found out because they were doing so well and they were all so happy. And yes, I do have flashbacks of 5th grade in class watching the challenger go off and be proud that a teacher like one of my own was up there only to be horrified that they were all gone. People you respect leaving your lives whether you knew them or not hurts either way.
I respect them, I morn the loss, and I keep them in my prayers. They will never be forgotten by me.

And now I started crying again... )-;

please write to your representative that you wish to continue support for future space programs (if you do, that is). The loss will be of course hard on NASA, though NASA has been through these hard times before. The only things that have kept them going are your enthusiastic support for space exploration and the supply of the resources (i.e., money and pure talents).

Please don't let the Congress and Bush administration an excellent opportunity to kill future space programs.

Thank you.


well said...
our prayers go out to the families. To the families: Thank you for sharing those so dear to you with the rest of us.

Bush wont kill the space program hewants it to continue

The picture and quote says it all Wil. All I can add is a prayer for their families.

I remember when I got home at 7am (arizona time) and turned on the TV only to see the explosion. I was shocked. This kind of stuff just doesn't happen. All those people dead. Just like that. It is so sad.

I'm always grateful to log onto Wil's site and read the comments of the community that's been established here. In the spirit of CONTINUING the space program, I offer this:

by William Earnest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from Pole to Pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll;
I am the Master of My Fate;
I am the Captain of my Soul.

bless Columbia and her crew

The loss of the Shuttle crew is a tremendous blow. I fear that this may be the beginning of the end of U.S. manned spaceflight. If the shuttles are grounded another nation will have to
pick up the ball, or the Space Station will never be finished. The replacement vehicles for the shuttle should have been started over 10 years ago, but have never been funded. In less then 9 years all shuttles will be grounded. If a major push were to start now, there would still be a period without a U.S. space vehicle while new ones were being built.

From Israel, we are all sad here, and sad for you Americns as well. so sad, so many things to say, and at the same time speechless.

=( It's so horrible that this happened. I had all sorts of things to do yesterday, but then when I got up and turned on the tv, I was drawn in like a moth to a candle. I think I watched the nonstop news coverage for like, 6 straight hours.

I'm so glad that catastrophies like this aren't a common occurance at NASA. This is what, the first major scarey accident since Challenger, and that was like, 17 years ago, right? I think NASA's doing a pretty good job, given the potentially dangerous nature of space travel.

can't think of a damn thing to say that hasn't been said allready, in nicer words..
just a sad day, and a terrible loss of life...

I found this on the telescope mailing list that I subscribe to. Don't know if it's the author's original works, or if it's from somewhere, but I found it very moving and sums up how I feel about all the events of the past 24 hours.


We came from the stars
and to the stars we shall return.
Each generation one step closer,
standing on the shoulders
of our mothers and fathers before us.

And when we fall (as we must),
there is nothing to do but get up,
and get on with it.
The stars are in our blood and in our nature.
Phil said it perfectly,
we can not falter.


Yesterday I was in shock.

Today I grieve.

Tomorrow we pick up the pieces, figure out what went wrong, fix it, and move on.

We owe it to the brave seven souls that perished yesterday to continue.

When I woke up yesterday, I was nervous; I'm taking a placement exam for one of the most pretigious Catholic high schools in Oregon. My stomach was churning and I walked into my mom's room; she was crying and watching the New york News (we only get new york channels on our satelite) and I thought someone had died, you know like a fmaily member. But it was this.
I cried too; it wasn't a good day for a placement exam.
Love, The Fish

I was in the 3rd grade when Challenger exploded. We had so many projects and events surrounding the shuttle launch- I thought space was exciting and so important. I remember not being able to comprehend that the astronauts were gone. Our teachers were crying in th corner- why? I was completely convinced that the astronauts had escaped in a capsule or parachute. My mom had to finally explain to me that they had died. And I cried.

17 years later, I am now married, I have seen alot happen in the world yet, it is not any easier. I am 8 years old again. Even with a husband and step-mom that has worked for NASA- it is still exciting and important. God bless the families, and the NASA family. God be with us while we grieve. I take comfort in knowing that Columbia's mission is not over, they are now exploring a new frontier. Heroes.

Katie in Tennessee

The Green Hills of Earth was what ran thru my head yesterday morning, too, Chris. However, the third line should read:

Let us rest our eyes on FLEECY skies

Nonetheless, it's brought me near to tears everytime I've quoted it to someone the last 24 hrs.The only problem with that, of course, is that they didn't "pray for one last landing." They spent every waking moment trying to get into space, and they succeeded in their dreams.

Good luck, crew of the Columbia. Give our love and respect to the crew of the Challenger, as well as Grissom, White, and Chaffee, and all others who have given their lives to make the impossible possible.

In the name of epigraphs, this appeals to me. I've already seen articles defaming the space program. In the name of our humanity, we cannot afford to lose it. We cannot afford to lose sight of the truly important aspects of who we are. We cannot get lost in tragedy as so many of us have for so many months now.

That said, this is one of the saddest things I've heard in a long time. I was three when the Challenger exploded. I don't remember it, but I will remember this.

I think of this and the seemingly imminent American war with Iraq, and I wonder what our priorities are. As my friend Ryan says, with the money we're spending on "defense", "we could buy every American a rose, but we'd rather have more bombs to drop on civilians".

We can't afford to lose the space program. We can't affford to lose pure research. We can't afford to stop being explorers, to lose our curiosity. We can't afford, in any aspect of life, in response to any event, to be paralysed by tragedy and fear.

That's enough from me.

For the crew of the Columbia:

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
that is circling all 'round the sun.

What a beautiful dream
that could flash on the screen
in the blink of an eye and be gone from me
soft and sweet
let me hold it close and keep it here
let me . . .

And one day we will die
and our ashes will fly
from the aeroplane over the sea
but for now we are young
let us lay in the sun
and count every beautiful thing we can see
love to be
in the arms of all I'm keeping here
let me . . .

What a curious life
we have found here tonight
there is music that sounds from the street.
There are lights in the clouds
and there's ghost all around
hear a voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
soft and sweet
how the notes all bend unreachable
the trees . . .

Now, how I remember you
how I would push my fingers through
your mouth to make those muscles move
that made your voice so smooth and sweet
But now we keep where we don't know
Our secrets sleep in winter clothes
with the one you loved so long ago
now you don't even know his name . . .

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
that is circling all 'round the sun.
And when we meet on a cloud,
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing at everyone I see
can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all . . .

My heartdeep sympathy to all those involved with the loss of Challenger - the irony of it was I was watching TNG when it was flashed on the screen about the disaster - in a way fitting

Thanks Wil for this gesture

From you allies in the United Kingdom

I don't know if anyone will see this (bottom of the pile and all), but here goes.

I saw Columbia launch for the first time. Not on television; I was there. Young, but there. I don't remember much besides the loud noise and the ground shaking, but from that moment on, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was seven and home sick the day that Challenger blew up. As a kid from Florida, it had a certain immediacy to it. When the shuttle launched in the early morning, we could see it from our backyard in Naples, rising like a star into the heavens. It was so close. I knew teachers who had applied for the Challenger program, and others who knew Christa McAulliffe. There was talk then also that the space program would die. It didn't: in fact, federal funding increased. It's funny how we take it for granted until a tragedy like this makes us realize how amazing it really is that space flight is possible at all.
While I dreamed of being a mission specialist, I learned a lot about the space program. I watched many launches, on tv, in my backyard, and even up close. I talked to astronauts and other people in the NASA program. And the thing that always struck me was a sense of wonder and the love of discovery. My own sense of wonder ultimately drew me to theology, but I always kept that feeling of respect, even awe, for those who broke away from the earth to touch the stars. So when I read the news on CNN.com yesterday morning, and then watched all day yesterday as the events unfolded, I mourned those men and women. It takes people of incredible bravery and dedication to do what they do.
For those who worry that this will kill the space program: don't. It has done, is doing, and will continue to do incredible things. My husband works for the Chandra X-Ray telescope, which was brought into orbit by Columbia. It and the Hubble are expanding our knowledge and understanding of our universe at an incredible rate, and neither would be possible without the manned space flight program. The space station is also doing marvelous things, including creating perfect crystals in zero-g. Plus, private interests benefit from government contracts related to the program, so they'll keep in going :)
Certainly write your representatives and show your support. But have faith. And pray for those who died.

You have a talent for finding the perfect things to say.

I'm crying all over again.

"From Israel, we are all sad here, and sad for you Americns as well. so sad, so many things to say, and at the same time speechless.
:-(" (Posted by Shmulik at February 2, 2003 08:53 AM)

Of all the comments I have read through on this thread, the above comment from Shmulik in Israel is the most extraordinary and noteworthy to me. Yes, people died and we are all upset. I think it's abhorrent that the media is trying to tout this tragic event as a "terrorist attack." Anyone with a brain knows better than that!

Thank you, Shmulik, for stepping across the hatred and suspicion and offering condolences. May I offer mine to you as well? You and Israel have suffered no less of a loss than we, and I believe it's important for us all to remember that. It may be what helps everyone keep their sensibility and spirit of cooperation in these critical times.

Everyone seems to be offering their condolences to the people of America and Israel, and to the families of the men and women of Columbia as well - let me do so too.

From Slovenia - a heartfelt goodbye to those that carry the torch of mankind to the sky. Each time they ride a pillar of fire into the sky, our dreams and hopes go with them. Now, our prayers follow them to Valhalla, ad they did the men of Apollo 1, and the crew of the Challenger.

The "old europe" may not agree with the politics of president Bush, it might think that Americans aren't the nicest people around, it might be inclined to think that they should really be a bit more subdued, but it nonetheless appreciates you and shares your joy of achievements. To have a dream litteraly explode in your face is more than anyone should bare.

As some people share their thoughts in poems that encourage them, express their sadness and share their grief - let me do so too. Funeral Blues, by W.H. Auden - paraphrased by me.

"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and the muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message They Are Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

The Sky was their North my South, my East and West,
Their working week and their Sunday rest,
Their Noon, their midnight, their talk, their song:
They thought that love would last for ever: they were wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good."

Hail Columbia.

Wow, im speechless too, great quote.

My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. You will NOT be forgotten.


If it makes the heartache a little easier to bear, I do not believe the crew would have suffered. If the cabin decompressed at 200,700 ft they would have instantly lost consciousness and would have felt no pain.

They have floated among the stars and touched the face of the Lord.

God bless xx

Thank you for this.

We are all here for a brief moment in time. Cherish each nuance and let it last an eternity....and hopefully die doing that which you love to do........


...sniff... That made me cry, Wil!

Thanks for the appropriate quote, Wil. I've always been fond of that and two other that seemd appropriate: "For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the Vision of the World and all the Wonder that wuld be," Alfred Lord Tennyson. And, "Something hidden. Go and find it." Ruyard Kipling.

I've been so down about this all weekend, not because the astronauts died doing something pioneering and still dangerous, but they did so in AGING vehicles instead of the newest our technology can muster. I lost a personal heroine - Kapala Chawla's picture has graced on of my personal web pages since 1997 and I was heartbroken to know that she was aboard this mission.

I've been a fan of space exploration since I was a little kid. I sign off all my messages "ad astra". I dreamed of becomign an astronaut myself and loved the science of it all. Even now, if someone said I could go up in the next shuttle mission, even without them knowing for sure what went wrong this time, I'd go. Knowing all the risks, I'd go. I just think it's such a fabulous opportunity and something so important to do - being amoung the first explorers into space. I see value in it.

I just wish more of us felt that way and that our space program wasn't having to send 20+ year old space craft into space.

Excellent quote. My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends.

^w^ Raven ^w^

Our "star trek" will continue because of brave souls like the one's we've lost. I will honor their memory with the hope of continued exploration into the stars.

My sympathy goes to the friends and family of the American, Indian and Israeli astronauts lost in this terrible event.

I do wonder though whether the response in the blogging community and media is in perspective?

This week 7 were killed in a plane crash in East Timor, 8 were killed in a train crash in Australia and 40 in a train crash in Zimbabwe.

Why does the shuttle tragedy (and it is one) generate so much attention and these others do not?

Yes we should mourn the loss of these fine astronauts - but perhaps we should also try to keep some perspective. Just my observations - perhaps I'm wrong...??

I am just wondering if everybody who cried about the Space Shuttle accident also cried about the 4 soliders who lost thier lives in a helicopter accident 2 days earlier in Afganistan. Space travel is a dangerous business and all 7 of them knew that. People die every single day in untimly ways, but I guess it's not a tragic unless you die a noble death in the Space Shuttle. I guess I am just saying lets all keep some perspective.

A truly sad occasion. There's been a lot of death in the news between the explosion in Nigeria and the soldiers who died in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan and now this. I see a lot of people saying "so what, lots of people die". I really think it's the circumstances of this tragedy that make it so extraordinary. For people who look to the stars it's always so tragic to remember the Apollo (although I hadn't been born) and the Challenger (which I saw happen live when I was 9).

It's really the scale of the event. These people were explorers. They represent so many good things about humanity: intelligence, bravery and determination. I can't say how sorry I feel for Israel to have seen someone who had become a national hero die in such a horrible fashion. Most of all, I feel for the families who will never see their loved ones again.

Rest in peace guys. Your loss will be long remembered and all that you had yet to do in life will be sadly missed.

Sleep well Columbia.......

Thousands of people die every day, many of them wonderful, accomplished and loved. The Shuttle astronauts assumed a risk in the name of science and exploration, and for that they should be respected. But I'll save my mourning for the poor, the hungry and the miserable. For children slowly starving and women being beaten to death. I'm a scientist myself, and while I know that it's valuable to study spiderwebs in zero gravity, it's more valuable to make sure that children are being fed and receiving medical attention. I think Americans should be demanding that their government allocate their funds to helping the poor and needy, instead of spending on the military and space exploration.


I said elsewhere, and I'll say here -- it is not for anyone else to tell me how and for whom to grieve. There are tragedies every day, it is true, but this one was so sudden, and such a blow to almost the only forward-looking government program that's in the public eye, that I think our feelings of loss aren't unwarranted.

I was very proud to see President Bush say, unequivocally, that we would not give up on space exploration. It is our destiny to explore the planets and, eventually, the stars; if we stay Earthbound, ALL of our problems will continue to worsen. Many modern technologies are spinoffs of the space effort. NASA has paid its own budget dozens of times over in the innovations produced in the last four decades. This is not "wasted money"; this is an investment -- and, historically, a damned good one.

-- 4 soliders who lost thier lives in a helicopter accident 2 days earlier in Afganistan --

Why? You, granted, did liberate a foreign nation from a regime of opression, and they should be thankfull, but now you occupy it. Just as you occupy other parts of the world where something is not to your liking. Just as you will wage war on the people of Iraq, and not upon their leaders that push them into where they are.

You spread "Liberty, Justice and the Pursuit of Happyness" across the globe with the strength of bombers and the guns of tanks. When your allies oppose you, you call them "old europe". I come from the "new europe", as mr. Powell so nicely said, and we oppose it as well.

And no, we are not muslim. We do not feel for Saddam Husein. We do not like opression.
But we do not like the brute force way of solving things. We do not appreciate sidestepping the Security Council, and we do not appreciate dragging NATO into a war that will cost lives and gain nothing.

In Columbia and the Space program, the world sees the pinnacle of achievement, braving the last frontier for manking, and making a difference that will someday change everyone and everything.

In the US military, the world sees a dangerous force in the hands of a megalomaniac madman. Iraq is not a thread to world peace. George W. Bush and his staff are.

I do not like death. I do not wish for anyone to die. But I know that people must die for fundamental changes to occur. I already feel for the families of American soliders that will die in Iraq. I wil grieve with them, but I will not grieve for them. I will not grieve for them.

Their deaths will ultimately serve a purpose - not liberating Iraq, not spreading freedom across the globe, but rather showing the people America to play as they were part of the team, not an individual. The world has no place for individualists.

Someone suggested taking the money from the Space Programme and giving it to the poor.
In Koper, the major port of Slovenia, the USS Harry S. Truman is currently docked. It costs as much as a shuttle, and brings not peace but destruction. Take the money from there.

And let us grieve for the heroes that we choose.

(James really needs to GET A CLUE (and quick...). He's pasted the same assanine comment on several blogs I frequent and it's getting old fast.

Wil, a wonderful tribute to a brave crew of men and women who knew full well what could happen.

God Bless the crew of Columbia.


Just wanted to add my thanks to those expressed above.

That was a nice quote, Wil. Thank you.

When we go to space, we go not as Americans...
We go as human beings, for all mankind...
This is why the death of our seven voyagers is such a tragedy...
They didn't reach out to touch the stars for their own benefit, but for all humanity...
For all the possibilities of humankind...
For all that we COULD be...
Let's make ourselves beautiful, for them...

Roll on, Columbia.

We saw it first-hand.

My wife and I were on the way to visit her parents in southwestern Arkansas for the weekend. As we were pulling out of the driveway, my wife glanced up and saw what she thought was a plane on fire. By the time I looked, it was a big ball of fire with bits falling off it. I thought it was going much too fast to be a plane and suggested it was a meteor (neither one of us knew the shuttle was supposed to land that day).

About a half hour later, my wife's father called us on my cell phone to tell us what happened and that debris was falling in an area we usually travel through to get to Arkansas (specifically, Palestine, TX). We decided to "press on" and take our chances with delays.

We saw no fewer than four pieces of debris through the area, plus several brush fires a few hundred feet off the road that were probably caused by flaming debris. The largest piece we saw could fit into the bed of a pickup truck (that bit made the TV news--it landed in the grass median between a divided highway).

Its going to take some time to seach for wreckage; its a very heavily wooded region of the state. We saw some F16's from Barksdale AFB doing a grid seach pattern, but they were awfully high up; I doubt they could see anything visually.

It was a sad weekend....

You may or may not like Reagan, but his Challenger speech is worth reading (and applicable to Columbia):
"Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them...

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

To all those who feel it's a bit mushy to be upset over this tragedy:

These people, these mortals go up there, they endure forces that would make greek Gods flinch, and they strive to expand what we know it is to be human.

While we live on this Earth, under gray skies fighting each other over our differences, these people bring us the view of the world from above, as one, and give reason for faith in humanity.

Growing up, I watched the Columbia especially, the first orbiter in space, and her missions and the space program is directly responsible for my sense of hope for the future, the basis of why I did not become a cruel, jaded person.

On February 1st, the world lost one of our very few doves in the sky, and the seven brave people who flew her. A little bit of sun that breaks the clouds above winked out. There is nothing else we do on Earth with such skill and precission - that is not designed to kill people - than the space program.
These people ride fire into the sky, and they ride on flames coming home.
They died alone up there, largely I feel because we, humanity, have not been forthcoming with our support of space exploration.

They are willing to take the chances they take because if they don't it won't be done, and we won't offer a dollar more for their safetly.

I think we should have been increasing the program's money, I think we owe it to the brave souls that take these chances for us all.

Earlier up there the great Poem "High Flight" is quoted. I found a website that set that poem to music. It doesn't suck.


Words can fail many of us (although not all of us - there's some great poetry above) but music can acheive as well as words sometimes.

Nice posting Wil.

that was a very nice thing to do Wil.

Thank you Mr. Wheaton, sir. A very fitting quote.

All this sadness.....

My sympathies go out to all the families and friends of those involved.

The following is a heartfelt request to the goverments of the world. Nick and I spent much time thinking this out and writing it. We have sent this to you and put it on PetitionOnline.com. We implore you all to read this and sign our petition. Our goal is to send a clear message to the goverments of the Earth that continued manned space flight is a necessity for the advancement of mankind. And to honor those valiant crew members of STS-107.
Thank You Wil for your words and letting us respond,
Nick and Therese Miller

As Neil Armstrong said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." We the People of Earth implore the powers that be , To go boldly forward with manned space exploration. Do not let the deaths of the gallant crew of noble Columbia be in vain. We know they would be the first to say it is vital that we continue to strive towards the stars and not let fear keep us from accomplishing the goals we have set before us.
To this end we need to not only immediately continue the Space Shuttle program, as well as continue to expand the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle is a integral part of further advances for medicine as well as science in general. With the mobility and capability of returning to earth in a timely fashion, and experiments requiring both weightlessness and gravity being vital, the Space Shuttle provides admirably and it is also a key element in further expanding the Space Station. The Space Station is necessary for our long term experiments requiring weightlessness for medical and other scientific reasons, as well as being a logical jump point for our continued exploration of Mars and the other planets in our Solar System.
The Space Plane is our next logical step to continue the efforts of those such as Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and the fateful crew of Challenger. The Space Plane will speed our trips from the Earth to the Space Station, be much more economical in the long run compared to the Space Shuttle in that it will not require disposable solid rocket boosters, as well as being safer for our space travelers with the absence of the rocket boosters. The speed in which the Space Plane will be refueled and able to return to space will make it possible for us to return to the moon and make use of resources there, as well as the possibility of colonizing Mars when mankind is ready for that step.
On December 17th, 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina those who witnessed the first flight of the Wright Brothers, could have hardly imagined that in under 100 years mankind would have gone so far from the Earth. With advances in technology coming at exponential rates, we can put the first person on Mars within 10 years, and have people living there within our lifetimes.
With continued support of manned space exploration, we will be honoring the memory and dreams of Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, and Laurie Blair, the crew of STS-107 and the people of Earth.

Pardon the length (I hope this is ok....it's an email from one of the astronauts, an email sent the day before she died):

Laurel Clark of Racine, Wis., was a submarine doctor with the U.S. Navy (news - web sites) before joining NASA (news - web sites) in 1996, traveling to the depths of the oceans before soaring above as a mission specialist helping with science experiments on the space shuttle Columbia. The mother of an 8-year-old son, she was on her first shuttle mission when Columbia disintegrated over Texas. The day before she died, she sent an e-mail home to family and friends:

"Hello from above our magnificent planet Earth. The perspective is truly awe-inspiring. This is a terrific mission and we are very busy doing science round the clock. Just getting a moment to type e-mail is precious so this will be short, and distributed to many who I know and love.

I have seen some incredible sights: lightning spreading over the Pacific, the Aurora Australis lighting up the entire visible horizon with the cityglow of Australia below, the crescent moon setting over the limb of the Earth, the vast plains of Africa and the dunes on Cape Horn, rivers breaking through tall mountain passes, the scars of humanity, the continuous line of life extending from North America, through Central America and into South America, a crescent moon setting over the limb of our blue planet. Mount Fuji looks like a small bump from up here, but it does stand out as a very distinct landmark.

Magically, the very first day we flew over Lake Michigan and I saw Wind Point (Wis.) clearly. Haven't been so lucky since. Every orbit we go over a slightly different part of the Earth. Of course, much of the time I'm working back in Spacehab and don't see any of it. Whenever I do get to look out, it is glorious. Even the stars have a special brightness.

I have seen my 'friend' Orion several times. Taking photos of the earth is a real challenge, but a steep learning curve. I think I have finally gotten some beautiful shots the last 2 days. Keeping my fingers crossed that they're in sharp focus.

My near vision has gotten a little worse up here so you may have seen pics/video of me wearing glasses. I feel blessed to be here representing our country and carrying out the research of scientists around the world. All of the experiments have accomplished most of their goals despite the inevitable hiccups that occur when such a complicated undertaking is undertaken. Some experiments have even done extra science. A few are finished and one is just getting started today.

The food is great and I am feeling very comfortable in this new, totally different environment. It still takes a while to eat as gravity doesn't help pull food down your esophagus. It is also a constant challenge to stay adequately hydrated. Since our body fluids are shifted toward our heads our sense of thirst is almost non-existent.

Thanks to many of you who have supported me and my adventures throughout the years. This was definitely one to beat all. I hope you could feel the positive energy that beamed to the whole planet as we glided over our shared planet.

Love to all, Laurel."

thanks for sharing that email lauren

Why did we go to the Moon?
What were we trying to prove?
In shuttles we venture forth
Conquering Space
while slowly(?!) destroying
the home of our race
You'd think we would come
to acknowledge our Place...

Alas, it is not so.

Why do we bury the dead?
What has gone wrong with our heads?
We got our priorities messed up somehow
We'd best re-evaluate where we are now
The fate of our future could turn with a dial

Gone, in one final blow.

This was a tragedy that should never have happened.
I only hope that something positive can come of this tragedy. I don't know what can, but I pray that they did not die in vain.

As a member of the US Air Force, I am not only saddened by this tragedy, but also that some of my colleagues have fallen. It is a reminder that people can die no matter where they are, who they are or what they do. Yet these folks will always be heroes in the name of exploration. In 1987, I attended a school that was renamed to Challenger Middle School. Thank you for your tribute, Will.

"Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on." -- President George W. Bush, 2/1/03

Godspeed, Columbia.

I am, like many here, a space geek. 9-11 has been the only thing that has affected me more heavily than the Challenger disaster. I will never forget seeing it explode. Never. Columbia has burned bright into my memory as well. Seven more brave soul given the Viking Burial in the Sky.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." -another famous President that some folks here may or may not like...

I will pray to whatever deity might listen for the families of the crew, and pray twice as hard to whomever listens for the future of the space program.

Godspeed, Columbia.

I believe President Bush said it best. " The Columbia crew may not have made it back to earth, but they did make it home"

That was nice Wil. I live in the town where all this is happening. I saw somw wreckage. It makes me sick to my stomach. Let't not forget these real Heros.

I'm the type who normally prefers to grieve alone. While I understand that others feel the need to share their grief, I have seldom felt that way myself. For that reason, I've avoided reading the comments here until today.

It's taken me about 2 hours to read everything and one thought moved me so much that I felt I had to comment.

Many people have commented on how much hope can be gained by considering how people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds can come together with one goal, this mission and this programme. I agree with this. What struck me here though, was the near universal outpouring of sympathy, not only for the victims of the disaster and their families, but also for the other, unrelated tragedies that have occurred and are continuing to occur throughout the world. That we can all, in this one forum, share in these common thoughts and continue to hope that the world will eventually become a better place through our efforts is, I believe, the most immediate sign that there really is hope for this world.

This post really isn't about the Columbia, I guess. I simply wanted to say how incredibly moved I am that so many people have shared so many beautiful thoughts. There is hope for humanity, after all.


I remember very well the Challenger and where I was that day. I had the flu and stayed home from school that day. I had just fixed myself a baloney on toast with mustard when I saw those terrible pictures.

It practically broke my heart to see that horrifying sight 17 years ago. I never thought I'd see that again.

But then Saturday morning, I had literally just gone to bed at 9:00 am. Then at 11:00 am, I got a call from my friend.

"Dude, the space shuttle just exploded!"

I immediatly turned the TV on and put it on CNN. There, Miles O'Brien (the CNN correspondant, of course) was telling how NASA had lost contact. I watched the streaking lights in the sky and I kept wanting to believe that the crew was okay.

That maybe they had survived.

But when I heard that NASA had lowered the flag to half-staff at the Kennedy Space Center, I felt the same pain I did 17 years and four days earlier.

I'm still numb from the shock of all this. I remembered Columbia well, as a kid in fourth grade, we watched the Shuttle landing. It was so impressive then, seeing that magnificant craft glide down to a perfect landing.

Columbia was truly the jewel in NASA's crown.

It's a shame that NASA has announced that there won't be any replacement shuttle.

It would be interesting to research if the Russian Space Shuttle could be used to replace Columbia. Perhaps if modifications were made to the Russian version of the Space Shuttle, NASA could modify it to make it spaceworthy.

"The conquest of space is worth the risk to human life." - Gus Grissom

Difficult to say which is sadder: The loss of the shuttle and its seven crewmembers, or that it takes something of this nature and magnitude to bring home the essential heroism of the members of the astronaut corps and the need for realistic investment in the infrastructure of our space effort to so many people.

A terrible, terrible occurence on every level.

I was reading some links about challenger, and the thought that Iraqi's are calling this Gods vengeance is disgusting, hateful and blasphemous. I do not condone war usually, but in this case
I think that it is warranted, not just because of what they said about the challenger crew, although there is that, but because there leader is a loose cannon who brainwashes his people into believing all the junk he feeds them about
Allah. I hate the thought of war, but in this case it all comes down to who pushes the big red button first, and all I have to say to Mr. Bush is blow 'em to hell and back!

Every rose has it's thorn
May God bless and keep the brave souls on board the Columbia
They surely deserve thier eternal reward

And now a prayer(hey i'm Catholic whadyawant!?!?!)

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thine name
Thy kingdom come thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily grace
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgivr hose who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For your is the glory and the power of God
Forever and Ever
Rest in Peace Colubia.

It's been a long road,
getting from there to here.
It's been a long time,
but my time is finally here.
And I will see my dream come alive at last,
I will touch the sky.
And they're not gonna hold me down no more,
No, they're not gonna change my mind.

'Cause I've got faith in the heart,
I'm goin' where my heart will take me,
I've got faith to believe,
I can do anything,
I've got strength in the soul,
and no one's gonna bend or break me,
I've can reach to the stars.
I've got faith...
I've got faith...
Into the heart.

Live long and prosper, Columbia. May your souls live on into the 24th century and beyond.

It was my 11th birthday, I was sitting in Mr Platts math class at one of the many elementary schools I attended. And suddenly they came on with the announcement that the space shuttle Challenger blew up on take off. I was absolutely crushed. For years my birthday was marked with sadness from the accident. I am now 28 as of January 28th. And I live in Waco Tx... for those of you who arent familiar, its in Central Texas whee the explosion took place. I heard the boom, I felt my house shake. I turned on the the news and the memory of my 11th birthday came back to me. But this time I was explaining to my kids what had happened and holding them as they cried. I pray for all the families of the astronauts, not just of Columbia, but of Challenger and Apollo accident as well. May their souls rest in peace forever.

I am half a world away from most of you but I am a space enthusiast just the same. I like so many others keep a scrap book of space events, which, until now was filled with milestones of achievement. Now it features a tragic loss.

I have had the honor of meeting two astronauts so far in my life. Andrew S.W. Thomas (Australian Born) and Moonwalker Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt.

Australia's hopes and dreams fly in space every time Andy Thomas flies on the shuttle. But my dreams fly every time there is a launch. No matter who the crew is.

May the dreams of these 7 men and women live on in the space program. I honestly hope that we will return to space and continue the work that they sacrificed themselves for.

hi i want be a astronaut, and i like space and model rocketry

what century are we in??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? i think i held the key to long

"Ad Astra"

A hundred worlds await us if we keep our track,
Let us explore what no eyes have ever seen,
We must go always outward, never fall back,
Though we will surely meet dangers unforeseen.

So let us spread our wings and upward rise,
Until we have left Earth's prison bars,
Until we are far beyond her familiar skies,
And can finally reach the distant stars.

---Daniel Rowlands