February 1, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Godspeed, Columbia

They vault into orbit on top of several million pounds of burning fuel. They spend days in the near-absolute zero vacuum of outer space. They return to Earth without propulsion on a 165,000-pound glider. It's difficult to imagine a job that involves more danger. Despite the risks, however, the loss of astronauts always comes as a shock.

Perhaps catastrophic failures such as that of this morning become national tragedies because space missions—shuttle flights in particular—have become so routine in their ongoing success. More likely, it's because astronauts are our latter-day heroes. In an age when you can go anywhere on the planet within hours, or send a message anywhere in the world within milliseconds, space is indeed "the final frontier." Our astronauts today are what Columbus and Magellan were five hundred years ago. The naming of Space Shuttle Columbia recognized this.

We may mourn our heroes, we will certainly remember them, but let us also thank them. They boldly went into space in search of tomorrow. They sought to discover the mysteries of the universe and bring them home to the rest of us. They let us touch the sky.

Though the crew of the Columbia was lost, their spirits were not. They will be there when NASA missions resume in the future. They'll be with us as we make future discoveries. As our president said this morning, "The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home."

Godspeed, Columbia.


Seated in front are Commander Rick D. Husband, Mission Specialist Kalpana
Chawla and Pilot William C. McCool. Standing are Mission Specialists David M.
Brown, Laurel B. Clark and Michael P. Anderson, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Today's Column
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1/31: One Down, Eleven to Go
1/30: Eldred v. Ashcroft
1/29: San Diego Sleepy No More
1/28: Edith Keeler Must Die
1/27: Public Enemy Number One
1/26: Rondo alla Turca
1/25: Back in Uniform
1/24: Hitting the Wall
1/23: It's a Small Web After All
1/22: War is Hell
Watching the Wheels
1/20: Bring on the Mayhem
1/19: Pigskin Ponderings
1/18: More Stupid Lawsuits
1/17: Finding My Passion
1/16: Gulf War Memories
1/15: Meet the New Boss
1/14: Man's Other Best Friend
1/13: Sea of Fire
1/12: Back to the Books
1/11: America's Finest Climate
1/10: Sunshine in a Bottle
1/9: What Would Jesus Drive?
1/8: Southwestern Sojourn
Wheel of Fortune
Class Warfare
1/5: Very Large Dream
The New Nuclear Age
Going Solo
New Year, Old Cave
1/1: All Things End

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