Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The conquest of space is worth the risk of life

The Astronaut Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center - Credit: NASA
Today is NASA's "Day of Remembrance." Three of the most tragic space events all occurred around the same time of the year. The Apollo 1 fire on the launch pad on Jan. 27, 1967, the Challenger disintegration during launch on Jan. 28, 1986 and the Columbia reentry burn up on Feb. 1, 2003 are always on the minds of those who work to put people into space.

The NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, who also flew on a number of space shuttles in his career, said that those men and women were dear friends, family and colleagues. He said that as we undertake a journey to Mars, their spirit will live on.

"Today, their legacy lives on as the International Space Station fulfills its promise as a symbol of hope for the world and a springboard to missions farther into the solar system," Bolden said.

"If we die, we want people to accept it," said Gus Grissom, the commander of Apollo 1 before his death, "We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

That to me is the most important thing we can do to honor those who give their lives to space exploration - continue their journey.

For me, I was 14 years old when Columbia and her crew were tragically lost. Looking back at my life, I think that was the point I started taking space exploration seriously. These people believed in it enough to give their lives for the cause of making our species multiplanetary. What can we do to help continue their legacy?

One thing is to support the ISS by spreading the information about research that happens on the station, why it is important and why we should risk six human beings for that research.

People might have disagreements on timelines or interim destinations, but one thing is certain: the ISS is a critical part of that path, for it truly is a first stepping stone on the path to Mars.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Year Ahead

Credit: NASA
Happy 2015! This year will mark 15 years of continuous human presence in space, which has been the record for nearly 5 years. 

Think about that: for the last 15 years, there has always been at least 2 people in space at any moment. Currently, there are six, all on the International Space Station. 

This year will be busy for the ISS. The big news item for ISS will be in March, when Scott Kelly, and Mikhail Korniyenko launch to the station. They are to be the first ISS crew to stay in orbit for one year. Kelly and Korniyenko are part of a study to watch how astronauts bodies react to being in micro-gravity for a year. In particular, Kelly’s twin, Mark, will be on the ground to compare with. Year long missions are yet another stepping stone in learning how to go to Mars, which would last two to three years from start to finish.