Thursday, January 28, 2016


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

There are some news images that, having seen them the day they happened, I cannot look at them again.

The  flaming towers of 9/11 is one image...the crazy Y of the Challenger demise is another.

It's been thirty years since 'Go for throttle up' has taken on such a chilling overtone.

I wasn't even watching the launch.  As I recall, it had been scrubbed and rescheduled more than once, and I'd lost track of when it was actually to launch.  And I had a newborn baby ...a fussy newborn baby...and I just wasn't paying much attention to the outside world.

But thirty years ago I had literally JUST managed to get her down for a morning nap and  was tiptoeing away from her crib when the phone rang.

It was one of my friends, and her question as soon as I picked up the phone was, 'What does [your husband] think?'

Of course, I had absolutely no idea why on earth she would ask me that.   She was surprised I didn't have the TV on.  'The space shuttle just blew up, ' she said.

I hung up the phone and turned on the TV and there, against that beautiful blue sky, was the image that would be shown over and over and over as folks tried to make sense of the tragedy....the one that I've hidden several times today on my facebook feed. 

My Sweet Babboo would spend the next two and a half years working on the SRB redesign team.  NASA hauled a small fleet of office trailers to Marshall Space Flight Center, which is on the local army base,  where the redesign team worked.   Back in the day,  when security wasn't such an issue,  with the contractor sticker on the car, I could pick up Chik-fil-A sandwiches and take our daughter out to the picnic area by the trailers and meet him for lunch.  That wouldn't be possible now. And sometimes he'll talk about someone he ran into somewhere and comment, 'He was in the trailers.'

But that day,  all my plans to accomplish stuff...I don't even remember what I was planning to do...during the precious nap time totally evaporated as I , along with the rest of the country, watched the replays over and over, trying to see something that might've caused the disaster.

The investigation did find the culprit, and the engineers came up with a new design to prevent the same failure from happening again.  We returned to space ...for a season...until the years caught up to the shuttles and  we mourned again, doubly, for that investigation found that the weaknesses could not be engineered away. Each subsequent launch was one more counting down to the end of the space shuttle program.  The remaining shuttles all went to museums.  The space shuttle Atlantis is displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; the Endeavour, at the California Science Center in Los Angeles; the Discovery, at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia; and the test shuttle, Enterprise, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.  Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston has one of the 747's that was modified to carry the shuttles.  Huntsville has the Pathfinder vehicle, which predated Enterprise and was used for testing transportation vehicles and assembly cranes.  Americans going to space do so on Russian rockets now.  The first test launch of the next generation space vehicle is still nearly three years away.

I'm aware this is a rather rambly post;  I don't have a nice little summation to draw from it.  Other than humans are fallible...we have failed before, we will fail again...but we can't let failure be the determiner of the future.    The only way to  truly fail is to give up and quit.

"Never never never never give up, '- Winston Churchill

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