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Feb. 2nd, 2003

Hopeful is a strange mood to be in today, especially since I capped off a day of tragedy watching on TV with a showing of "The Hours", but the mix of the two was somehow positive. Reading what other folks have written today helped as well. This sounds silly but I don't remember other people being as upset as I was about the Columbia when it happened. I was in college and I remember watching a couple of news reports on a friend's black and white TV and having a brief moment of not despising Reagan when he quoted the "slipped the surly bonds of Earth" poem. The other piece of literature I associate with the Columbia was a series of science fiction short stories (in Asimov's or Analog) about time travelers from a different timeline in which "Columbia disaster" referred to an explosion that sent the Columbia and her crew into an elementary school...killing many children as well as the space program. They tried to go to their past to prevent that disaster, but they accidentally crossed timelines as well and wound up in our world where the disaster was much smaller. I can't remember who wrote those stories, or which magazine they were in but there were two, probably three of them, and they were published sometime between '90 and '00. That's probably one reason I'm hopeful, there's a lot less of this 'what are we doing in space', 'what's all this money going for anyway' bullshit today than there was 17 years ago.
It seems a lot to hope for, especially as the pieces of the puzzle are so widely scattered, but it would be nice if the investigating teams eventually came up with a definitive explanation for what happened and how to prevent it happening again. That wouldn't make space flight completely safe of course, but it would remove the fear of the unknown, if we don't know what happened we can't make sure it doesn't happen again.

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