A Tragic Week in Space Exploration - 01/31/14
Tomorrow marks the 11th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. On February1, 2003 I had just arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah for the Outdoor Retailer conference. I turned on the TV to seethe landing, only to discover the shuttle had broken apart on re-entry in the skies above Texas. All seven crew members were lost and debris rained down on East Texas and parts of Louisiana. A nation began to mourn and I knew I would never forget that moment. It was eerily familiar to the time 17 years and 4 days earlier when the Challenger exploded on lift-off on January 28, 1986. My friends and I all rushed into the science classroom to witness what had happened. Ironically, the only other fatal NASA spacecraft accident occurred during the same week in 1966, on January 27th. That is when the crew of Apollo 1 perished in a capsule fire as they practiced for their upcoming launch.
Space exploration has always fascinated me. Its a form of flying, something that has been a part of my life from an early age. And like flying, there are inherent risks for those who push the envelope every day. 17 astronauts have paid the ultimate price. So this week,as we mark all 3 anniversaries, I salute those men and women who died taking our country to new frontiers. Space exploration is crucial to our future. It drives us, and fuels innovation and technology. It is one of the many things that makes our nation stand out. Even though recent years have seen financial strains put on our space program, my hope is that young Americans will create a renewed interest in pushing the boundaries of exploration once again. It makes dreams a reality, and takes us to places we never imagined.
To learn more about the astronauts who have sacrificed visit http://www.astronautsmemorial.org/space-mirror-memorial.html