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.”