View Full Version : Columbia Disaster - Some Perspective

2003-Feb-02, 01:41 AM
Firstly I would like to send my condolances to the families and frinds of the shuttle crew members.

I would also like to say that I was very shocked to here the news of the loss of the Columbia because I am very interested in the shuttle program and fondly remember watching the first take off and landing of the shuttle as young teenager.

Finally I think I need to inject some non-American perspective to the discussion going on here.

Take a look at these numbers:

* Columbia Crash (Today) - 7 people dead.
* Canadian Avalanche (Today) - 7 people dead.
* Zimbabwe Rail Crash (Today) - 40 people dead and 60 injured.
* Sydney Rail Crash (2 days ago) - 8 people dead and 20 people injured.

Yes it is terrible that the 7 Coloumbia astronauts died but the loss of their lives is not more important than any one elses just because they are Americans or because the way they died is more sensational and TV worthy.

People die unnecessarily EVERYDAY (as can be seen from the above) and every unnecessary loss of life is tragic. So to all those here who are being a little melodramatic about the Columbia crash take a moment to put the whole issue into a world perspective rather than an insular US perspective.

2003-Feb-02, 01:52 AM
You are absolutely right steve... One life is not more important than any other whether they be American, Israeli, Palistinian, or Iraqi... BUT- This is a forum dedicated to Astronomy, Spaceflight, and technology. Maybe that is the reason for the attention to Columbia.

Point Taken-

2003-Feb-02, 01:56 AM

Thanks for the reply.

The point of my post was not to say that the issue should not be discussed here (hey the BAD forum was the first place I turned to get some rational discussion on the issue) but to make people aware that they were just being a little too melodramatic in their responses.

2003-Feb-02, 01:58 AM
Mainly, The reason it is capturing so much attention is:

A. This is an astronomy forum, and most people here can relate more to this tragedy.

B. Space disasters don't happen very often and when they do, NASA is usually under fire from critics who want to cut the funding.

Nobody wants to hear about any lose of life. One disaster does not overshadow another, but for this particular forum this particular topic fits.

2003-Feb-02, 02:02 AM
Steve, are you just now discovering people die every day?

Some more informative perspective....

The Soviets had all four of their cosmonaut fatalities occur during the return to Earth. This is our first such accident. We are not alone.

These 7 deaths were eye~witnessed by several million people even if they did not know what they were looking at. Granted, that would not be the case if there were complete cloud overcast around the breakup path.

This is a HUGE story. There is a reason it is a topic of discussion on every webboard no matter what the purpose of the webboard.

2003-Feb-02, 02:06 AM
Everybody is missing my point.

I am NOT saying that this issue should be not discussed, particularly here.

I am saying that the melodramatic nature of many of the postings is a little over the top and that posters should put this issue into a little more perspective.

That's all.

2003-Feb-02, 02:15 AM
Chill dude. Soon they will discover the mass of the Higgs Boson and in the process the Earth will be reduced to a small particle, about the size of a pea.

2003-Feb-02, 02:32 AM

It's not that everybody is missing your point. I agree that the space shuttle disaster is amoung other disaters to befall today. However; I don't see any posts as being overly melodramatic. I see people paying respect to something that they are passionate about.

Put it this way: You read in the obituary about a close friend who has passed away. Their obituary is surrounded by others. It's not that you don't care about the other people but that your main focal point is the friend that you lost. It may be a grim way to put it, but you have to imagine that alot of people here either work with, associate with, or are just really interested in NASA. So the shuttle disaster is their main focal point.

2003-Feb-02, 02:32 AM

Does NASA have high altitude jets photographing the re~entry of every shuttle over any possible cloud cover--unless the re~entry path is very long? How long is the path and how is it measured? At 207,000 feet, what kind of g~forces were they experiencing at the time? (to get from 17000 to 12500 mph they must have already been doing some decelerating)

2003-Feb-02, 03:02 AM
The reason Columbia got so much more attention then the other events you listed is because diasters like this don't happen often. As sad as they may be they do happen often but incidents like Columbia havn't happend since 1986. If trains almost never crashed or avalaches rarely occured then they would be all over the news but sadly they do happen often so they aren't big news stories except in the places they happened.

2003-Feb-02, 03:05 AM
Steve -
I don't know what country you are from or what your interests are, but imagine a national landmark, treasure, or program that your country takes a lot of pride and joy in suddenly being destroyed. Wouldn't that destruction impact you more then any other bad news that day?

Bill S.
2003-Feb-02, 03:07 AM
On 2003-02-01 21:32, Lexx_Luthor wrote:

Does NASA have high altitude jets photographing the re~entry of every shuttle over any possible cloud cover--unless the re~entry path is very long?

No. NASA typically uses T38's for "chase" aircraft; it is neither high-speed nor high altitude. NASA's highest-flying, fastest fixed wing aircraft, the SR-71, can in no way approach a "chase" speed for a re-entering shuttle.

How long is the path and how is it measured? At 207,000 feet, what kind of g~forces were they experiencing at the time? (to get from 17000 to 12500 mph they must have already been doing some decelerating)

2003-Feb-02, 03:43 AM
All of us spacenuts feel a pretty strong connection to NASA and this hits closer to home than some other disasters do. I'm sure no one here would intentionaly belittle the loss of life in any major accident. It's hard not to be a little maudlin when something this bad happens to a person or group of people whose welfare we care so much about.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dickenmeyer on 2003-02-01 22:54 ]</font>

2003-Feb-02, 03:45 AM
I hope everyone can stay strong during this ordeal.

You will see other nations sharing the
pain of this. It is not just an "american thing" it is a human thing.


2003-Feb-02, 04:00 AM
Steve--I agree. It's sad that the 7 brave people on the shuttle died. It's also sad--and horrible, because it is unnecessary--that children are being killed in the Sudan. While I agree with the posters who note that the shuttle is both a symbol and a realization of a nation's boldness and quest, I also wonder how many innocent people would die if Mr. Bush decides to invade Iraq. How can the people of the USA mourn our 7 dead heroes and then inflict death on people who live in another country and who have done us no harm?

To quote a character in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, "Ain't that the drizzlin' [bad word deleted]s."

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DStahl on 2003-02-01 23:01 ]</font>

2003-Feb-02, 04:26 AM
Ugh! Can we please keep the controversial political debates out of this?!!!!

2003-Feb-02, 04:56 AM
Sorry. Just expressing what went through my mind. Won't bring war, etc into it again.

2003-Feb-02, 05:01 AM
Does NASA ever try to film the re~entry from Earth--and that means from aircraft above
extensive cloud layers?

And don't even think I'm axing about chase planes. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Stanly is a moron, kai is a walking dead beet, Xev just want sex.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Lexx_Luthor on 2003-02-02 00:01 ]</font>

2003-Feb-02, 08:08 AM
Steve, to some extent I agree with you. In the balance of lives, this is trivial compared to a day's statistics. Viewed from that perspective, it's a blip. And there have been some doomsaying predictions about the future of the Shuttles and manned exploration, and even NASA as a whole. Those are premature and overstated to be sure.

But some of us know these people. I used to work with Laurel Clark's brother. And even if we didn't know them personally, or know people who knew them personally, it hits home because it is something we dedicate ourselves, our efforts, and our desires and hopes to. For those of us who work in the space program, this is a personal loss just for that reason. Even those who don't work in the space program have a personal interest through shared hopes and dreams. And so it's emotional, and emotional people sometimes react dramatically. Even melodramatically. That's part of dealing with the loss.

Thanks for sharing. I hope you'll hang around more.

2003-Feb-02, 04:27 PM
A few people have argued that we should keep controversial political, etc., topics out of these discussions, and I have been thinking about that since yesterday. While this IS an astronomy board, it is easy to recognize that happenings in one field of endeavor are intimately linked to happenings in other fields. Usually these links are relatively insignificant, obvious, uninteresting, or otherwise unworthy of being discussed on an astronomy board. But this event is different - it is not only, in fact perhaps not even primarily an astronomical event. It is simultaneously a fully religious, political, astronomical, engineering, social, event in the form of a NASA disaster. Therefore, it seems to me that in this case it is wholly appropriate that we discuss potentially controversial issues, as long as we remain reasonably close to the actual event, topically. Of course, this is the BA's board, so it's his call, but I hope that people won't rejct out of hand the discussion of potentially controversial topics out of a gutteral, emotional reaction to being further pained, such that we lose this opportunity to engage in reasoned debates on such important topics.


2003-Feb-02, 06:44 PM
The problem is that just about everytime someone interjects such a comment, an emotional debate ensues that hijacks the thread. Several good threads have been locked because of this. Of course, when the posts that start such debates are anger/hate - filled comments (like "the president is a ****" or "You have no right to shove God down my throat!" - as if I hadn't had atheism shoved down my throat all my life at school and through the media /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif ). How can we have resonable debates over such things?

Besides, the day of mourning should be a time for everyone to join together and comfort each other, not rip apart each other's throats.

2003-Feb-02, 07:23 PM
Two topics that bite people in the butt everytime is Politics and Religion. There is no point in debating either because everybody's opinion varys on either subject and nobody will change anybody's mind on them. Yes I agree that the topics fit with yesterday's tragedy...on a personal level. But comming to the BB with personal opinions about either topic (even if it's just with the intention of discussion) will ultimately lead to a heavy, heated debate and the BA will end up locking the thread. So I personally don't see the point in even bringing it up.

2003-Feb-03, 12:03 AM
i agree to a certain extent. however, assuming that lives are inherently of equal value is questionable.

of course, when watching national news one should expect coverage that will reflect the cultural misapprehensions of the times that have been traditionally inculcated by the aforementioned vehicle. it is obviously much more powerful than the individual: it is suggested that you only watch or listen to foreign delivered news if possible in order to somewhat avoid this sort of annoyance. current political character necessitates such blind comparisons between 9/11 and the columbia disaster. i am an american on my way out. best of luck discussing these issues with the majority.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: blitheclod on 2003-02-03 00:35 ]</font>

2003-Feb-03, 12:11 AM
this is sickening. nancy is blaming the shuttle disaster on nasa and the bush adminastration. She says they made the disaster happen as part of " plans to invade iraq and nuke px". I cant believe somebody would stupe so low to dishonor the memory of the astronauts. Somebody needs to shoot her.

heres a link: http://www.zetatalk.com/index/cfeb0103.htm

as you know, she edits everything as they happen to make herself sound like she knows everything.

2003-Feb-03, 12:44 AM
Nancy is not the only one, as this post to Alt.Conspiracy (google archive) shows

===========Begin Quote==========

The Columbia Shuttle was shot by an invisible ELF wave out of a secret
military installation in Alaska called HAARP. The range of this
tactical weapon starts at 35 miles high. The Shuttle went out of
commission and contact at 39 miles high.

===========End Quote============

For the rest, go to:

"DoD shot down Columbia"


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Graham2001 on 2003-02-02 20:09 ]</font>

2003-Feb-03, 12:49 AM
Graham can you cut it in half and we will jsut cut and paste it? Thanks

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2003-02-02 19:49 ]</font>

2003-Feb-03, 12:54 AM
I think I'll try and post the entire message to lunar conspiracies, that may be the best forum to 'defuse' this little nasty.

The full text of the message can now be seen on the forum at: http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3714&forum=3&0


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Graham2001 on 2003-02-02 20:07 ]</font>

2003-Feb-03, 10:15 AM
People have spoken about the relevance of the death of 7 people as compared to the world view.

I'd like to offer, that in these time of trouble, NASA - an others - continuing quest for space, has been a shining light.

Yes we should morn no more less, the countless others who died that day. But the greater loss is the damage to man's quest for knowledge, and the possible extinction of that shinning light.