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  Echoes of Columbia

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Author Topic:   Echoes of Columbia
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-23-2005 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Orlando Sentinel:
quote:
The Columbia families will be linked to the launch in another way. They have all been offered the opportunity to send objects with sentimental value aboard Discovery.

Anderson is sending a pin with the Columbia mission logo on it.

McCool made a collage of photos around her husband's scorched name tag, the only one to be recovered from the Columbia's wreckage.

Doug Brown, brother of Dave Brown, the only unmarried member of the Columbia crew, is flying pennants of the high school, college and medical school his brother attended.

...

Once, when she and Willie had an argument, Lani took her "Hope" ring off and threw it on the bathroom counter.

Later, she noticed a glint on his hand. He had slipped the ring onto his pinkie finger. It was his way of maintaining a connection, of saying he was sorry.

She wore the ring faithfully until a few weeks ago, when she took it off, put it in a small box, wrote an address on the label and drove to the post office. She sat in the parking lot for a long moment, crying.

Then she walked inside and mailed the package, sending the ring on its way to what will be, she hopes, a safe journey, next to Willie's charred name tag.


Read the full article here.

Duke Of URL
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Posts: 1301
From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 05-23-2005 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wally Schirra said test pilots wear the black armband to the funeral and then it comes off.

That was nearly 40 years back, so look at how NASA has changed. For the better, I believe, because now space flight is seen as a human endeavor and less of an experiment.

This idea can provide serious challenges. Missions to Mars will entail fatalities.

We need to walk a fine line between a human connection to space travelers (actually a beautiful thing) and the idea that risks will be taken and death will occur.

Maybe NASA should ask the astronaut corps, past and present, to speak to the public frankly and in a high-profile way about this subject.

Some time ago America lost it's capacity to deal with setbacks in a mature way.

Astro Bill
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posted 05-23-2005 10:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Duke Of URL:
Wally Schirra said test pilots wear the black armband to the funeral and then it comes off.

That was nearly 40 years back, so look at how NASA has changed. For the better, I believe, because now space flight is seen as a human endeavor and less of an experiment.

This idea can provide serious challenges. Missions to Mars will entail fatalities.

We need to walk a fine line between a human connection to space travelers (actually a beautiful thing) and the idea that risks will be taken and death will occur.

Maybe NASA should ask the astronaut corps, past and present, to speak to the public frankly and in a high-profile way about this subject.

Some time ago America lost it's capacity to deal with setbacks in a mature way.


Duke,

I agree with your idea that astronauts should talk to the public about the risks of human spaceflight. Perhaps a symposium of some kind would be appropriate before the next manned shuttle launch in July.

I do not understand your last sentence. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that we are unable to adjust to the loss of life on Challenger and Columbia? How should "Americans" have reacted?

The tragedy of 9/11, to make a comparison, was enormous. I believe that the American people handled it in a mature manner and that, while they are still affected by it, they have moved on with their lives and they look forward to the new World Trade Center.

Getting back to spaceflight, I am sure that those American who are concerned about it know that being an astronaut is still a very dangerous occupation. There are accidents in testing (Apollo 1), on launches (Challenger) and on reentry (Columbia). Missions to the Moon are dangerous (Apollo 13) and they always will be dangerous. Astronauts are test pilots, they are not colonists. They will always be the commanders and the pilot and I agree that there will be fatalities. The fatalities will happen because their work is inherently dangerous. The fatalities will most likely result from accidents, not from a fatal disease. Most people accept that as far as I know, but I cannot speak for all Americans.

There are many dangerous occupations. Over 300 policemen and firemen were killed on 9/11. They knew the risks of their occupations and we are adjusting to it.

But a symposium on the inherent dangers of speceflight and the courage of our astronauts would be welcomed.

[This message has been edited by Astro Bill (edited May 23, 2005).]

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-23-2005 11:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Astro Bill:
But a symposium on the inherent dangers of speceflight and the courage of our astronauts would be welcomed.
There was just such a symposium held last year:

Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and Stars
Sept. 26-29, 2004
Monterey, California

quote:
To engage in an open discussion about the issue of risk identifying it, mitigating it, accepting it all in the course of exploration

"Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone.
Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking."

Challenge fosters excellence, often drawing on previously untapped skills and abilities. Each of us takes and accepts risk as a part of our daily existence. We often go out of our way to seek challenge.

However, seeking challenge often means accepting a high level of risk. The dictionary defines risk as being exposed to hazard or danger. To accept risk is to accept possible loss or injury, even death

One of the key issues that continue to be debated in the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia is the level of risk NASA accepted. And ultimately, the entire nation is now engaged in a broader debate over whether or not the exploration of space is worth the risk of human life.

While risk can often be reduced or controlled, there comes a point when the removal of risk is either impossible or so impractical that it completely undermines the very nature of what NASA was created to do to pioneer the future.

Everyone today understands that human space exploration is a risky endeavor. However, the quest for discovery and knowledge and the risks involved in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles is not unique to NASA.

Whether it's exploring the depths of our oceans or reaching the top of our highest mountains, great feats usually involve great risk.

During this symposium, we want to examine the similarities between space exploration and other terrestrial expeditions and examine how society accepts risk.

For example, more than 40,000 Americans die each year in automobile accidents. A recent study of 22,000 fatal accidents showed that nearly two-thirds of the victims were not wearing seatbelts a clear indication that too many of us fail to understand the risks when we get behind the wheel of a car and fail to buckle up.

Why are sacrifices made in the name of exploration more notable than the losses suffered in the course of everyday life?

What lessons can be learned by studying the history of exploration and risk? And why are so many people willing to risk their lives to advance adventure, discovery and science when often the benefits are unknown and indefinable?

We have assembled an invitation-only audience of participants for this important event comprised of NASA astronauts and leaders, as well as world renown mountain climbers, deep sea explorers, cave explorers, arctic and Antarctic researchers, scientists, communication experts and others.

These participants are involved, in a personal way, with risky endeavors, which serve to expand the frontiers of human knowledge beneath the sea, on the surface of Earth and in outer space.

We look forward to your participation in what we believe will be a spirited and highly beneficial public discussion of risk and exploration.


www.risksymposium.arc.nasa.gov/

Astro Bill
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posted 05-23-2005 11:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert for the information about last year's symposium on the risks of spaceflight. When I seconded Duke's idea for such a gathering, I was thinking of one that would be on a major TV network or cable channel as the recent programs about the Columbia mission and the preparations for the Discovery launch.

I am sure that many space collectors and supporters would welcome such a TV symposium, even if it was a repeat of the Sept. 2004 symposium. Did you attend the 2004 symposium? Who were the speakers?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-23-2005 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Symposium was aired on NASA TV and I believe segments were shown on CNN (anchor Miles O'Brien was among the speakers). I didn't attend but I did watch parts and from what I saw and heard from others who were present, it was excellent.

The full list of speakers can be found here.

Transcripts from each of the sessions can be found here.

All times are CT (US)

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