Just Wondering

My thoughts were kind of rambling around when seeing an email update about the current shuttle mission to the International Space Station.

It occurred to me that manned spaceflight launches are rarely, if ever, televised anymore. Heck, for that matter I’ve found it bloody difficult to even find a live web-cast of these events. Oh, I am not a hamster, I realize that most people are apparently bored with manned spaceflight or have this idea that the money would be better spent elsewhere. (Which is a view that I both disagree with and refuse to debate.)

I think that space exploration has done us a world of good, not only in times like Apollo 13’s desperate race against time, cold and dwindling supplies of air and power to return to Earth. Or the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters where people all over come together in a mutual agreement of support.

There’s the technological developments that resulted from it. I honestly believe that modern computers wouldn’t be half of what they are today if not for the needs that had to be addressed for computers that didn’t fill a warehouse. And it’s not just computers either, a lot of modern electronics has it’s roots in the space program.

Do you suppose that if we’d skipped the space program that we would be on the edge of coming up with the cheap, renewable, clean power systems that are being developed now? How about that tankless hot water heater? Or that fancy High Def plasma screen tv on you living room wall?

Then there’s advances in food storage and preservation. Those guy’s have to eat up there and without gravity to make normal everyday things work right, innovation was once again the result. How about ultra lightweight, flame resistant, heat reflecting materials?

Then there’s simply the fact that space is the single biggest unknown ever. It’ s out there, above our heads, daring us to discover what’s out there. How can we possibly even consider the idea of turning our backs on it?

So the next time you see mention of a chance to watch the launch of a manned spacecraft, set a few minutes aside and watch the thing.

[Tags]televised shuttle launch, Columbia Shuttle, Manned Spacecraft, Apollo 13, Desperate Race, Modern Computers, Modern Electronics, Food Storage, High Def, Everyday Things, Shuttle Disasters, Race Against Time, Space Program, Technological Developments, Space Exploration, Launch, Challenger, Plasma Screen Tv[/tags]

2 Replies to “Just Wondering”

  1. I live in Florida, so I see them every time they have a launch, it’s on our news days before and after. The day of, they usually show the launch live on at least 1 local channel.

    And on a clear night, I can go right outside in my driveway, look NW, and watch it go up.
    I did that the other night, it was beautiful as always.

    But the reason they don’t broadcast them live nationwide anymore is because of the disasters.
    After Challenger blew up during launch, a launch that was shown on televisions across the whole country, and in almost every classroom because of teacher Christa McAuliffe, which traumatized hundreds of thousands of children across the country, and then Columbia’s disaster on re-entry, which also traumatized the people who saw it actually happen, watched it live on their local tv stations in Texas, they are afraid to show them live anymore.
    Far too many people have witnessed the bad, and I know that after the Challenger disaster specifically, many, many people were calling for an end to the space program.
    People didn’t want to see the shuttles blow up anymore, they didn’t want to know that people were dying in horrific explosions.

    I remember the Challenger disaster as if it happened yesterday.
    I was in 5th grade when Challenger happened, we were watching it live at school because the teacher was from New Hampshire, we were in Maine, one of our own New Englanders was going into space. It was a big deal for us students, all teachers too.
    We watched the countdown, we counted along, ignition.

    We all screamed and clapped as it started going up, it was beautiful.
    Clear blue skies on the tv screen from Florida.
    A little after 1 minute from lift-off, 1 minute and 13 seconds to be exact, it exploded.
    There was a very large gasp from all of my fellow 5th grade students, a small scream came out of my teacher’s mouth.
    Mrs. Flaherty quickly covered her mouth, and I saw the silent tears start to fall down her cheeks.
    She said she should shut it off, but she couldn’t budge from where she was standing.
    We all just stared at the tv, all of us beginning to cry, the news reporters were explaining what had happened, it was the 2nd most memorable tragedy in my life, the 1st being, of course, 9/11.

    About 10 minutes after the explosion, our principal came over the loud speakers and announced that school was closing early for the day, we were all to go home, if our parents were at work, we could stay but in the gymnasium until normal school closing hour.

    The walk home with friends was silent, you could hear the wind blowing, the trees crackling under the weight of snow and ice, and when I got home, my parents were sitting there crying too.

    It is for these reasons launches and landings aren’t broadcast live much anymore.
    Too tragic, too memorable, people cannot deal with the senseless loss of life simply because we want to explore space.

    Kats last blog post..Cheap clean hair and a dirty shower.

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