I think there are events in life that are so major and shocking that we will always remember where we were when they happened. For my Mom it was when JFK was killed. For me, unfortunately, I have several events that changed the world I live in and not in good ways. Obviously these events have different impacts to different people but they are impacts nonetheless.

I’ve loved space since I was a very small girl so the Challenger Disaster is a very poignant memory for me. I was in grade school and I was actually home sick that day. I was curled up in my Mom’s bed and she pulled the TV into the room so I could watch the launch. I was so excited but sadly that excitement obviously turned to disbelief and grief. I was devastated and could do nothing but cry for that day. However it did not change my resolve to be part of the space program in any way. I was so emotionally involved that when Return to Flight happened a few years later my mom pulled me out of school so I could watch the launch at home because she wanted to be there with me… just in case…

Now fast forward many years… I have continued to follow my dream and I am working at NASA with the International Space Station Program in Mission Control (I will soon after go to work in the Training Division). I watch Columbia launch and am delighted to see her beautiful launch. This was an incredible time for me in another way too. I was headed to Russia for my first (of many many!) work trips there. It was while there in Russia that I learned of the Columbia disaster. I was in the “apartment” (really think hotel room) that I was staying in and was about to head out the door to see the musical “Chicago” in Russian which I was pretty psyched about. Then the phone rang and everything changed. Co-workers told me to turn on the TV because Columbia was gone…

In the coming hours those of us there in Russia came together as a family to support one another, console one another and wonder “Why did this happen” together. The coming days, weeks and months would bring NASA together as one big family. We all grieved together but knew that all of the lost crewmembers would want us to continue our journey in space.

These are 2 moments in space history which I will never forget – and I hope no one else ever does either. It is by remembering that we can work to prevent instances like this. Space travel will never be without risk and we need to remember that. We also can’t be too overly redundant with safety because then we will never get anywhere – without great risk there is no great reward. But we do need to be smart about it and make good decisions.

Let me clear that I have LOTS of amazing and happy memories that I will never forget about spaceflight too… but for today I just want us all to remember what great sacrifices have been made by some in the spirit of exploration. Remember….

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One thought on “Remembering…

  1. … and having done-so, today, February 2nd, I am truly grateful for two further memorable space moments in my life: standing at KSC and watching ‘Discovery’ rise on the return flights – STS-26 and again STS-114. The 14 must be so proud of there friends and colleagues who did them the honour of not quitting when their hearts were so low. If the NASA team have learnt anything from their search of the heavens it is that the universe is replete with endings and new beginnings, with the utmost of courage NASA demonstrates such in humanity.

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