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Bucket lists

January 23, 2011

It was the first national tragedy that I remember paying real attention to in my young life. At 25 then I of course thought I was a veteran seasoned in life but the horror replayed on television again and again proved me wrong.

Before our eyes, seven lives ended. Dramatically. Forcefully. Explosively.

One was not even a ‘real’ astronaut. She was a school teacher. While the term wasn’t coined yet, this was probably one of her ‘bucket list’ items.

Now, 25 years later, I wonder if she or her family fully embraced the danger of the mission she chose to make. I suspect like most things in life, they acknowledged the risk, signed any appropriate paperwork and expected to celebrate a successful mission with her once the Challenger returned to Earth. Bucket List: Travel to Space = check!

Thankfully our space exploration program continued despite the loss, the fear, the horror. It is not perfect — how can pioneers even expect perfection? The Columbia tragedy would come in 2003 costing us another seven brave explorers. Yet our space program continues, and our society continues to benefit in both measurable and immeasurable ways from the intelligence of these myriad experts who epitomize “thinking outside the box.”

It is a tribute to all those who have died as part of the NASA space program that we forge ahead. To do otherwise, belittles the sacrifices they and their families made  toward the betterment of the USA.

I live in Florida now and my Florida bucket list includes watching a shuttle launch live and in person. It appears that I have three remaining opportunities to cross that one off my list and I plan to get it done. I will continue to pray for the safetly of all upcoming shuttle missions and look forward to watching soon from Cape Canaveral.

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