View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, February 02, 2003
I was out walking my dog in the park this morning when I heard about the Shuttle. I almost started to cry right there on the spot. The space program, - rudderless, aimless, bureaucratic as it is - is one of the single most important national endeavors that we have. Those people were heroes. I remember seeing Apollo 13, and marvelling that Apollo missions had become routine to the public. Shuttle missions had become so routine that we now had space tourists. Adventurers, so long as they don't get in the way of the professionals, should be encouraged. They will help make space travel truly routine. But this disaster is a reminder that we're not there yet, and that every mission puts brave men and women in harm's way.

I truly believe that the best thing now is to fix the Shuttle, and get on with a manned mission to Mars. If we're going to be spending big money and risking human life, we'll do it a lot more willingly if there's a goal.

A couple of words about Ilan Ramon, who was, to all accounts, a mensch. He was not religious. But he carried a microfiche Torah up with him, had kosher meals made, and inquired about keeping Shabbat. Some of this, no doubt, was the desire to carry familiar things with him into the most alien and isolated of places. But he also said that as an Israeli, he was a representative of the whole Jewish people, and felt a responsibility to keep these things for the duration. More Jews, observant and not, should feel the same way.

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