Friday, January 27

Where were you 20 years ago today?

The Challenger disaster was, famously, my generation's Kennedy assassination. We all remember where we were, right? (Probably some older 'codgers' remember where they were, too ;-)

Bizarrely, I was skiing on a little hill called Sundown (Eastern Iowa's ski destination!) near Dubuque, Iowa. It was the eighth grade ski trip. I was 14 years old. Someone said the shuttle had blown up and I thought it was just a joke. I didn't even think it was a 'sick joke' because I didn't give it that much thought. Then I saw the footage on the tv in the bar in the little lodge. Crazy. It was the biggest national tragedy I'd been aware of in my few years. I even wrote a little poem about it called 'Broken Wings' (which, unfortunately, always evokes the Mr Mister song for me. Should've given it a different title).

I've always been excited about the idea of spaceflight. I ask the twins with some regularity if they think they'll ever go to space or the moon. I hope so. Who knows? If I live long enough, maybe even I'll get the chance.

Little did I know in 1986 that NASA either was by then or soon would be really screwed up - not a good hope for getting more of us into space. I'm a much bigger believer in private space travel now. I think the exploration of space is really worthwhile, deserving of a reasonable amount of risk by private citizens in the spirit of exploration and innovation. We just had the X-prize last summer with a great amount of innovation and no fatalities. Here's hoping that it keeps going and that this old man will make it up.
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