Sunday, February 02, 2003

when challenger exploded 17 years ago, i remember sitting in a pew at our school's chapel a few days later, our priest gently prompting us to discuss the event, letting us tell stories about what we had seen on the telly, what the images had brought up, sharing sadness for the class that had lost their teacher, the kids who had lost their parents.

i remember one classmate of mine, 7 years old like me, saying that what he had seen when the shuttle exploded and the debris - followed by white vapour trails- was falling, was god's hand reaching out, taking the people on board to him. i remember my classmate saying that to him, it felt like god was showing us that people should not takespace flighs for granted.

what an old testament view of god for a seven year old.

indeed, space flight has been pretty much taken for granted over the past decades, as so many people have noted since yesterday afternoon, with the richest of the rich buying package tours to the international space station. strangely enough, this columbia mission had been the first space mission in years, that i had been remotely interested in, had read information on and observed in a way.

the age, which i read front to back most mornings in melbourne, had had a few larger articles on the flight. namely on ilan ramon, his life story, his being the first israeli in space and the picture of the moon, drawn by a boy in a concentration camp, that he was taking up there. also of interest to the melbourne paper had been a science experiment involving 8 golden orb spiders (dubbed "spidernauts") on board the aircraft, which students from local glen waverley college had developed, planned for 4 years and found sponsors for.

seeing the footage yesterday, first the pictures of the bright blue sky, a white vapour trail disintegrating, later those of debris, still smoking, on fields, near roads, in wooded areas, this morning that of a mission patch in grass, made me sad.
as has been hearing the radio contact between mission control and columbia, commander rick husband saying "roger, but", a crackling, static noise and then silence, silence that grew longer and longer.

in contrast to what i felt like 17 years ago, i am not sure that "god" (in the christian definition of the word) is there to pick us up when we die, or what happens after life.
i just hope it is something good, that we maybe go somehwere good.
should there be a sanctuary, a place where we go, maybe those 7 souls that perished yesterday, on the wild ride that re-entry has been described by a former astronaut on cnn, had a bit of an advantage to get there quickly and directly, being as close to the heavens as they were.

spaceflightnow: real time blogging of columbia mission status
cnn: remains, mission patch found
cnn: last audio contact with columbia
the age:victorian spiders lost with shuttle