There is tremendous worldwide sorrow over the loss of the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle. It’s much greater than the sadness that would attend the loss of a 747 with 350 people aboard.

There is a reason for this, and it is a good one: our astronauts are at the leading edge of human endeavour. They are carefully chosen for their accomplishments, abilities and general excellence. They are the best we have, striding into danger with a smile and a wave.

Among the most vivid memories of my life are the moment when the Apollo capsule burned in January of 1967, and the stunning sight of Challenger exploding. I will never forget the power of those images, the shock, and then the deep, abiding fear that crept in afterward.
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