Goodbye Shuttle program. It was a long expensive detour on the road to space. Thanks for giving me shuttle Enterprise to star in Channel Zilch. Thanks to all who worked hard on the program. All honor to those who gave their lives in Challenger and Columbia and in accidents on the ground.
This following tribute to the heroes of space travel is a chapter from Channel Zilch that I had to cut from the book. I’ve excised some plot passages. The narrator is Mick Oolfson, ex-NASA-astronaut, who is planning to steal prototype space shuttle Enterprise and launch it with a Russian booster.
The Columbia crash nearly stops Channel Zilch before it starts.
February 1st. I hear the news. A shuttle died. How can we think to launch Enterprise now?
Seven astronauts died. I knew two of them.
They would have wanted us to keep going – a truth that keeps the whole world from grinding to a halt with grief every time one of us dies.
I’ve said and I’ll say a few unkind things about NASA in this book. Let me put things straight right here and now: NASA covered my back every second of my eighteen days in space. Show me an organization that has more dedicated, skilled, and passionate people than NASA.
It’s a miracle every time a rocket makes it into space. A million interworking components riding a howling flame. Every launch is a triumph for every one of those who makes it happen.
Over one hundred successful launches. Two lost crews. A 98+% success rate at the hardest feat on earth. Never good enough, especially to all the people on the ground who worked to get us up and back.
Thanks to those who gave their lives. Thanks to those who put their lives in peril. Thanks to those thousands who gave years of their lives to build The Dream.
Apollo 1 – Jan. 27, 1967
Soyuz 1 – April 24, 1967
X-15 – November 15, 1967
Michael J. Adams
Salyut 1 – June 30, 1971
Challenger – Jan. 28, 1986
Gregory B. Jarvis
Ronald E. McNair
Ellison S. Onizuka
Judith A. Resnik
Francis R. Scobee
Michael J. Smith
Columbia – Feb 1, 2003
Michael P. Anderson
David M. Brown
Laurel B. Clark
Rick D. Husband
William C. McCool
I can’t list every person who gave their life to lift us into space. Astronauts die but risking our neck is part of the job description. Our deaths are news and millions mourn.
No one knows how many died on the ground building, maintaining, supporting, training. I’ll let these two stand for all those unsung heroes:
Columbia – March 19, 1981
John Gerald Bjornstad
They died while prepping the first space shuttle launch: Columbia’s STS-1 mission. They suffocated inside Columbia’s engine compartment.
Remember those who gave it all.
Work like hell to build The Dream.
The last shuttle landing. “Space shuttle Atlantis STS-135 lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida July 21, 2011.”