May 24, 2003
rescue of the shuttle crew was "conceivable"
A classmate's father, who recently retired from managing payloads for the Shuttle and worked for Grumman in the glory days when they built the LEM, sent me an application for NASA's Astronaut Corps a few years ago. I kept it, thinking that once I graduated, I might just send it in.
With that application in hand, I have thought very seriously at times of what it might mean to send it in. I spent a great deal of time (and sacrificed many trees) printing out public reports and feasibility studies on a manned Mars mission, and wondered what it might be like being a mission physician on a two year sojourn on Mars and in space. I've read Gene Krantz's autobiography, and Andrew Chaikin's excellent history of the Apollo program. No doubt much of this was daydreaming, and now I have many earthbound obligations, but the Space Program represented for me a combination of both the most visceral of human yearnings, exploration, and the idealism that makes such an urge material, whether in the form of a wooden bark, or a Saturn V.
It's discouraging that NASA is a very different institution now. The blame doesn't reside in NASA alone. Society's priorities have changed. Most respected historians of the Space Program note that the triumphant arrival of American astronauts on the Moon was a sublimation of the arms race with the Soviet Union, and without that ideological/military competition, the urge to pour a civilization's wealth and talent into such a focused goal has dissipated. And with this dissipation comes bureaucratization and diminution of ambition. And worse, the pernicious fatalism that sacrificed seven astronauts.
Perhaps the greatest indictment of this institutional passivity is Adm. Harold Gehman's statement yesterday that, supposing the danger to the Shuttle's crew had been seen with the proper urgency, the Atlantis, which was being readied for the next mission, could have been sent up on a rescue mission with an abbreviated pre-flight.
Drawing a comparison with military pilots, Gehman suggested that there is an "unwritten contract" that the utmost will be done to rescue stranded crew. No doubt this rescue mission would have been exceedingly difficult--there is no provision for two Shuttles to dock to one another, so astronauts would have had to space walk from the Columbia to the Atlantis--and risky for both crews, but the fact that there was no opportunity to even entertain the notion of a rescue is tragic.
Apollo 13 represents the best of American values, absolute refusal to accept failure and the ingenuity of hundreds of engineers and controllers to bring three men in a dead spaceship back home. What happened to this spirit? It is still hard for me to digest the notion that individual engineers can have identified danger to the crew, but that the Shuttle Program's culture accepted that nothing might be done, and fatalistically let the crew perish in a fireball above Texas.
Posted by erich at May 24, 2003 11:10 AM
tramadol I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts
to bite people themselves.
-- August Strindberg
tramadol for pain relief Software entities are more complex for their size than perhaps any other human
construct because no two parts are alike. If they are, we make the two
similar parts into a subroutine -- open or closed. In this respect, software
systems differ profoundly from computers, buildings, or automobiles, where
repeated elements abound.
- Fred Brooks, Jr.
I rarely speak in absolutes when discussing texas holdem, but it is absolutely worth the study. Texas holdem is a people game played with cards, not a card game played by people, at least once you get out of the penny-ante level.
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man,
You, with your fresh thoughts
Care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name
Sorrow's springs are the same:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins.
prozac online BOFH Excuse #289:
Interference between the keyboard and the chair.
I really think the psychology of texas holdem is way hyped, it is portrayed like there is minimal luck involved at all at the pro level.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
-- Mark Twain
fioricet for headache When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one,
an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
- Edmund Burke
Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.
It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.
The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of spirit.
As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream.
In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.
It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better...while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.
He who establishes a tyranny and does not kill Brutus, and he who establishes a democratic regime and does not kill the sons of Brutus, will not last long.
The unexamined life is not worth living.
So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as means only.
No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience.
We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
Our belief in any particular natural law cannot have a safer basis than our unsuccessful critical attempts to refute it.
The contents of the world are not just there for the knowing but have to be grasped with suitable mental machinery.
We agree that what is holy is loved by the Gods because it is holy, and not holy because it is loved by the gods.
Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the state, but has other divinities of his own. Such is the charge.
The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.
Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment.
My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.
I lay it down as a fact that if all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.
There can be no other truth to take off from than this: I think, therefore, I exist. There we have the absolute truth of consciousness becoming aware of itself.
Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.
Ours is a culture of premature ejaculation....
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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