I have vague memories of the Challenger disaster. I remember coming home from school (I was in the second grade) and finding my mother in tears. We hadn’t watched it in class like many children, but I remember the excitement surrounding Challenger’s mssion.
I wasn’t even aware that Columbia was in space prior to its explosion. I guess space travel has become such a routine event these days that the media doesn’t notice when a shuttle goes into space. We don’t even know that names of astronauts until they die. I think that’s a shame. The exploration of space is too important for the neglect it suffers both from media attention and from federal funding.
Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a photograph of Columbia’s crew. My thoughts are with their friends and families as they go through the difficult days ahead. I only hope that the investigation into what caused Columbia to break up on reentry can give families some peace of mind.
Buzz Aldrin wrote a column for today’s New York Times, stating his hope that this disaster actually reinvigorates the space program. I hope so too.