Columbia was lost on this date in 2003, putting a final stake through the heart of the Space Shuttle program. We were staying at a Residence Inn in San Bruno (Patricia was working in Millbrae), when I was awoken by someone on the east coast with the news. Here were my immediate thoughts, which held up pretty well, I think. And if you go to this page, you’ll find that post at the bottom, but can scroll up to see my further reflections over the next few days (or click on “Next post” from the first blog link). I had only been blogging for a year and a half or so at the time.
Today, Ian Kluft had a thread on Twitter on his recollection of seeing the disaster live, though at the time he didn’t know exactly what was happening:
We were staying at a Residence Inn in San Bruno. I was awoken by a call from a friend on the east coast to tell me that Columbia was missing. Drove back down to LA that day. https://t.co/l7nw2rpsYw
I think it’s worth noting that it would be handy to have some troops next door just in case things went south and we had to extract Americans. But if it nudges things in the right direction, that would be good, too.
Today is my birthday, which also means that it’s the anniversary of the loss of the Challenger and its crew (and the beginning of the long drawn-out end of the Shuttle program). Hard to believe it’s been that long.
Indeed, legislation has been proposed in Congress since the UAG was formed that promotes the Council’s professed goals of expedition, streamlining, and commercial dominance, and it enjoys bipartisan support from lawmakers representing “states and districts where aerospace technology plays a significant role in the local economy,” according to an analysis from Daily Kos. This shared financial interest has brought together far-right, anti-science legislators like Ted Cruz and Lamar Smith in co-sponsorship with Democrats from states with aerospace-heavy economies. [Emphasis mine]
The premise is that space is supposed to be about science, but that has never been true. And as Mark Whittington pointed out on Twitter, it wasn’t Ted Cruz or Lamar Smith who were running ads blasting their opponents for supporting a mission to Europa.
De Gaulle—the leader of the Free French resistance in World War II who went on to found the Fifth Republic under which France still lives today—understood the problem best. He thought Britain would never truly be at home in a European union. “England in effect is insular, she is maritime,” he said in his remarks blocking Britain’s entry into what was then called the Common Market in 1963. “She has in all her doings very marked and very original habits and traditions.” He added that “the nature, the structure, the very situation that are England’s differ profoundly from those of the continentals.”
Sadly, that’s not as much the case. One of the strongest drivers of Leave was to prevent further deterioration and Europeanization.