February first, again

No matter what is going on with the world, no matter what is happening in my life,  when the calendar turns to February 1 I have to stop, remember, and rededicate.

This year we have another gold star on the wall honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the conquest of space.  Michael Alsbury died last October trying to reach for the edge of space.  I trust that the NTSB will have several lessons for all of us to pay attention to when their report comes out.


It is a day to honor those brave souls.  I would particularly point out the last phrase on the Apollo 1 plaque at LC 34:  “Remember then not for how they died, but for those ideals for which they lived.”

It is not adequate to get emotional, and think about our losses; what is required is that we actually do something – make spaceflight safer, more reliable, and more common.  It has been too long to get maudlin.  It is time to get busy.

Over the next several blog posts I intend to visit the work we had to do to return the space shuttle to flight after Columbia.  It was much more than just technical.  Oh yes, much more than technical.

In the meantime, think on these words from the American author Jack London:

“I would rather be ashes than dust; I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot; I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than in a sleepy and permanent planet; the proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”

About waynehale

Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions, and is currently a consultant and full time grandpa. He is available for speaking engagements through Special Aerospace Services.
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9 Responses to February first, again

  1. Victor Moraees says:

    First I would like to say that I am your fan. You conveys a sense of unparalleled professionalism (from what I saw “to” today). Your texts are good, enlightening and inspiring. I wish you a great 2015, starting now, with great success, and achievements for the good of all mankind. God bless you !.

  2. Beth says:

    Thank you, Wayne. Columbia and her crew have been in my mind today.

  3. budbranch says:

    Reblogged this on Bud Branch and commented:
    I really enjoy Mr. Hale’s blog!

  4. prfrontz says:

    God bless you, Wayne. Hail Columbia.

  5. Simmy says:

    Can’t wait for your next post, can’t get enough of them!

  6. January 27, 1967 I was 12 yrs old and was home on the couch recovering from a bad cold, My parents were down stairs in the Rec Room playing cards with their friends, in fact I was watching the movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars on that Friday night, when the news flash came about the astronauts…I’ve haunted by that first disaster ever since..Even up to watching the STS Columbia re-entry with my Grandson Jordan that awful Saturday morning..I know that space flight will Never be entirely safe, But as a country we should always soldier on..
    David Paquette

  7. Kathy Kaminski says:

    Thank you, Wayne

  8. Dave H. says:

    As Jimmy Buffett sings, “let the winds of change blow over my head. I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead”

    After firing off a missive to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette chiding them for neglecting to mention both Columbia and Apollo 1 in their “Daily Almanac”, I did what I always do on February 1st weekend mornings: be in my ham shack chair remembering those lost.
    That’s where I was that morning.

    “It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.”
    See you next year.

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