I have no words
I'm sitting here trying very hard, and not very successfully to keep from shaking and crying. It's Challenger all over again, the horror of that awful morning in 1986, seeing the unbelievable happen before my eyes, except for the minor detail that this time I was spared the agony of bearing witness. Seven people burning a hole through the sky, returning home to their beloved earth. Incinerated. Obliterated. I don't think I can express the pain and grief I feel, for them, for their families, for our nation and our world.
Every person who undertakes such a magnificent endeavor understands the risk. It's never "business as usual" for the astronauts, for their families, for the technicians and specialists on the ground. They all take their jobs very seriously, because they know people's lives are at stake. It's not a safe thing to do, and for those of us who have followed the space program from the very beginning, who never turned away when it got "boring" or "dull", who saw in those brave men and women a small token of our own aspirations, and who share our sense of awe and wonder at the incredible visions of our small blue world backdropped against the immeasurable immensity of the cosmos, we share the pain, the disbelief, and our thoughts are with the families of the astronauts, their co-workers, colleagues and friends.
I hope if any good can come from such a tragedy, that their sacrifice will not be a vain or empty one. That regardless of the outcome of the already beginning investigation, we cannot abandon the frontier of space because the risk is too great, or the cost too extreme. It is incumbant upon those who remain to ensure that the cause in which they died continues, that the dream they embodied lives on so that future generations have the opportunity to seek out and explore beyond the safety of our tiny blue planet.
STS-107 Commander Rick Husband
Columbia Pilot William McCool
Payload Commander Mike Anderson
Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla
Mission Specialist David Brown
Mission Specialist Laurel Clark
Mission Specialist Itan Ramon
"These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
-- William Shakespeare, "The Tempest" Act IV, sc i
on 11:15 AM