We are NASA Science News subscribers. This just came in our e-mail from them. They have said it so very, very well.
Feb. 4th, 2003: At the dawn of the space age some 40 years ago, we alwaysknew who was orbiting Earth or flying to the Moon. Neil Armstrong, YuriGagarin, John Glenn. They were household names–everywhere.
Lately it’s different. Space flight has become more “routine.” Anotherflight of the shuttle. Another visit to the space station. Who’s onboard this time? Unless you’re a NASA employee or a serious space enthusiast, you might not know.
Dave Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon
Now we know. Those are the names of the seven astronauts who were tragically lost on Saturday, Feb. 1st, when the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) broke apart over Texas.
Before the accident, perhaps, they were strangers to you. But if that’s so, why did you have a knot in your gut when you heard the news? What were those tears all about? Why do you feel so deep-down sad for seven strangers?
Astronauts have an unaccountable hold on us. They are explorers. Curious, humorous, serious, daring, careful. Where they go, they go in peace. Every kid wants to be one. Astronauts are the essence of humanity.
They are not strangers. They are us.
While still in orbit Dave Brown asked, jokingly, “do we really have tocome back?”
No. But we wish you had.
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