Well, I really wasn’t planning to write another blog post about the space shuttle at this time, but then again, this isn’t about the space shuttle after all. This is about us – the people – who make the ships, the sails, the space shuttles and all the other wonders people have made.
The space shuttles do still play a part in today’s story though. To sum thing up very briefly, this is what’s happened in the space shuttle world since my last blog post: Shuttle Discovery did launch as scheduled on her final planned mission on 24. February. She returned victorious as always on 9. March and has now rolled out into history. Meanwhile, space shuttle Endeavour has been rolled out of the hangar, mated to her “shuttle stack” of 1 big external fuel tank and 2 solid rocket boosters, placed upon a giant crawler and rolled out to the launch pad for her final mission which is currently set to start on 19. April.
…and then the tragedy happened.
I haven’t read up on the details of it because I’ve been so busy with my own work these past several days, and so I really don’t know what actually happened, how and why, but Monday morning as a bunch of people went to work processing the shuttle and preparing for the launch, one of them fell from somewhere high up on the launch pad and died.
Shuttle Endeavour on the pad at first light.
Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
Tuesday morning, managers from NASA and United Aerospace met with the workers – who were actually quite determined to go back to work and get this shuttle ready for space one final time – and so that’s what is currently being done.
Like I said, I don’t know what’s actually happened here, but when I come to think of it, it seems to me like going back to work and placing this shuttle in orbit is actually pretty much the best possible way to honor this man and everyone who worked with him. It's kind of like launching Discovery on the “Return to Flight” missions after we lost Challenger and Columbia. Or like the guy who was photographed with his pickup truck pulled over to the side and waving the American flag as the first plane took off after September 11, 2001. This is not just very American. This is very human. This is what we do. This is who we are. We don't quit. We don't bend. And we do not give up. We adjust our course quite regularly and we do take a short time-out every once in a while to figure out safer procedures and new and improved ways of doing things. But apart from that, we mostly just keep on exploring and discovering like we always have.