Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 01 2003

I just got back from Maoman’s place, where he fed …

I just got back from Maoman’s place, where he fed me some delicious mashed potatoes and sauce for dinner. Afterwards, we settled down to watch some Red Dwarf, but Maoman got bored and went over to fiddle with his computer, so I switched the TV back to cable and saw a picture of something flying through the sky and NASA captions on it. Oh, I thought, they’re replaying the Challenger disaster tape. But when I looked closer, I saw that the logo said Columbia, not Challenger. Oh, no, I thought, not again.

I can’t say it seems like yesterday because I was a junior in high school that frosty Florida morning when I had to scrape the ice off my ’77 Datsun before coaxing the engine to life and driving to school for an Algebra test in Mrs. Wright’s class that was interrupted for an announcement that the shuttle had exploded. Of course we all knew something was wrong as we could all see the oddly forked trail of smoke on the horizon out the windows for an hour or two afterwards. I spent my lunch hour writing a hasty report for Mrs. Bell’s history class comparing and contrasting the Challenger disaster to that of the Hindenberg. Needless to say, I got a poor grade as well as Mrs. Bell’s undying antipathy for that stunt.

All of these thoughts came rushing into my head along with a great sorrow for the crew when I saw the TV screen. It’s happened again. At least we know what’s happened –the shuttle broke apart upon re-entry– but not why or how yet. I hope this accident, if accident it was, doesn’t again cripple the space industry as the last one did. The shuttle fleet is over two decades old, and I’m actually surprised we’re still using them, but the pace of space-related technology development has been agonizingly slow ever since the Apollo program was discontinued. My father worked on the shuttle program in the late 70’s; I remember him trying to tell me about re-entry strategies with models even though I was only 8 or 9 years old. He lives with my mother in his hometown of Ardmore, Oklahoma now; I wonder if he heard the booms.

posted by Poagao at 4:48 pm  

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