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My purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset

When Challenger exploded, I was in fourth grade math class. The principal made the announcement over the intercom and asked for a few moments of silence. We watched news coverage on TV for the rest of the day.

This morning, I had just let out the dogs and turned on the coffee machine when I switched on the radio. Words really fail.

I've already read this morning of the possible ways to politicize this tragedy. "American arrogance" will be blamed; anti-American factions will celebrate; NASA will be blamed for using 70s technology. Etc.

By the time of the Challenger disaster, shuttle flights were already seen as routine, boring even. But what appeared routine remained unimaginably complicated and difficult.

I cannot deny the politics of science that certainly affect the space program. But right now, I prefer to reflect on the remarkable achievements required to even dream about going to space. On climbing mountains, Walter Bonatti wrote:

We demonstrate in the most stunning way of all -- at the risk of our lives -- that there is no limit to the effort man can demand of himself. This quality is the basis of all human achievement in whatever field. It can never be proved enough. I consider that we climbers -- that I -- serve all humanity. We prove that there is no limit to what man can do.