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« Morons | Main | "The Rule, Not The Exception" »

A Tribute Glen May. He was a lifelong rocketeer."

[Update a few minutes later]

Dan Schrimpsher has more.

And Jim Bennett notes via private correspondence:

You will remember the scenes in The Right Stuff at the funerals of the test pilots; the Navy Hymn was always sung. This version includes the last verse, for space travellers, written by [Annapolis graduate] Robert Heinlein in 1947.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!

Almighty ruler of the all
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe—
Oh grant Thy mercy and Thy grace
To those who venture into space.

They didn't venture into space, or miss the cool green hills of earth, and now will never get the opportunity, but their ventures among the hot brown hills of the Mojave will make it possible for others to do so. And I think that regardless of how safely they've been operating (and this is the first such accident in many years and many hundreds of tests), everyone at the Mojave rocket test sites will view their own test hardware with more respect and caution now, if only just a little.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 28, 2007 08:06 AM
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I've said this before, but here's a short version:

We should not regret those deaths. We should honour those who died for the Dream, but we should accept that those deaths, and the deaths of the Apollo 1 astronauts, and those Russian ones, and the loss of the two Shuttles, were part of the price always associated with frontiers. There will be more. Almost certainly a lot more, and we should not regret those either.

An analogy: How many people died on the American frontier, which was only conquered a century ago or so? Does anyone think that the deaths of those brave pioneers were not a price worth paying for America?

Frontiers are dangerous. They always were, and always will be. The price of the last frontier will be enormous; but the prize gained by paying that price will be enormous as well - the Solar System and maybe eventually the stars.

Mourn the fallen, and honour them, and move on - and just try to ensure that their sacrifice was worth it.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at July 29, 2007 12:30 AM

From "Minus Ten and Counting", "Everyman" words and music by Mary Jean Holmes.

I've never left this Earth; I've never seen the stars;
I've never had the chance to journey to the Moon or Mars.
My name will never be recalled in books of history,
But by God, I know that those who did could not have without me!

For I'm the man who took up tools and laid out the designs --
Of starships; I'm the one who built their sleek and burnished lines!
I'm everyman who ever fashioned cold refined steel
Into the dreams of spaceflight: I'm the one who made them real

Posted by Mike Borgelt at July 29, 2007 02:24 AM

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