Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Sunday, 2 February 2003

# 5:15 AM

I remember the last time we lost a space shuttle. I was in third grade. Mr. Landy got one of the school televisions and tuned it to the Challenger launch. We were all excited because of Christa McAuliffe, who was going to be the first schoolteacher in space . . . but she never made it. Right there on live TV, the shuttle blew up.

School was dismissed. My mother came and picked me up and we walked home. I remember the flag in front of the school flying at half-mast. I'd never seen that done before, and I wasn't to see it again until Nixon died.

Today I got the news in a much more mundane fashion; I punched up Google News like I do every morning and there was the report. Emotionally it doesn't feel any different from another disaster you read about in the papers.

I expect this will be the end of the Space Shuttle, and I tend to agree with the people saying that that's a good thing. For the near term, disposable boosters like the Russians use are far more cost-effective; for the longer term, I hope we see more work done on concepts like the Roton or even the space elevator. (Did you know we might have a space elevator in fifteen years)?

Other than this, a pretty ordinary day for me. I've started taking yoga classes, which has had the expected effect that leg muscles I didn't know I had, hurt; and I threw out 2000 pages of journal articles that have been sitting in a pile for almost a year now.