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Space Shuttle vs other work related deaths

Feb 4, 2003 — Before I say anything, let me say that I hated hearing what happened to the space shuttle Columbia the other day, and am saddened hearing about the 7 astronauts dying.

On Monday we were discussing the accident and started asking why these 7 people get so much attention, while when a soldier dies you only hear about it a few times as a footnote anymore. Or when a pharmaceutical factory in North Carolina blew up and 4 people died, you only heard about the explosion, but nothing about the people who died. The 7 astronauts died doing their jobs. So did the 4 people in the factory. You could make the case that the astronauts were heros or inspirational to some people, but could you not say the same about the factory workers or soldiers even if they weren't on a national stage?

Sorry if this offended anyone, and no disrespect to the fallen astronauts, but why are they getting so much focus and attention?

Aesopian says:

Because the News has to sell something.

Jackson says:

Because they feel that it can impact world-wide as a "tragic space accident", even though it occurred in Earth's atmosphere...

rnewhouse says:

Some of it is the novelty. Office buildings don't exactly explode all the time, but there are industrial accidents and disasters going on around the world rather frequently. But how often does an office building explode overhead, shattering debris across three states?

Another part of it has to do with relative importances, I think. These were seven astronauts out of maybe 25? 50? 100? total astronauts in the world. It's a highly visible, very elite group, with a certain "celebrity" status.

The factory workers were 4 out of maybe a couple million guys with very typical, common jobs.

Every death is of monumental impact to those who experience it personally or within their circle of family or friends. The death of "strangers" is less compelling.

When we feel some kind of personal connection to those who died, whether it's because they are related to us, or went to the same school we did, or are among a small number who represent a stunning technology developed by "our" country, it hits us harder.

Lisboa says:

For a fwe years I tinkered with the concept of pursuing NASA's space program, until I as diagnosed with a medical condition that tragically limited the service actions I could perform for this nation. Likewise, my roommate pursued the Space Program at NASA until he too was removed from candidacy by his own vision impairment.

Astronauts are a rare breed of individuals - to an extent an elite group of individuals with an awesome cpacity to operate in and survive in an environment entirely foreign to 99.9% of the rest of the world. Their job is lived where life does not survive - a vacuum where nothing is everything and everywhere.

The space program has been a source of national pride since the Kennedy presidency in the 60's. Putting men in orbit, and landing them on the moon took center stage, and instilled on this nation a sense of pride and integrity unrivaled in two centuries since declaring its independance.

The men and women of this industry rise to meet a challenge that many of us could never fully fathom or fulfill. When they dawn their uniforms and set foot in their chariot, they represent the best of what this nation has to offer - not just this world - but the universe.

Those that would defy our heavenly lofts do so, knowing that they are in an extrememly dangerous situation. However routine their jobs may appear to many of us, they are always in harms way. The odds of tragedy are far more likely in their profession than our own.

It is out fo respect for the work they do and the risks they willingly shoulder that many salute them as heroes and they are limelighted because of this tragedy. A soldier killed in battle or those killed in a chemical explosion or miners trapped below the Earth's surface are no less heroes of the American spirit. They are the backbone of this nation, and allow this country the liberty to send those chosen few into the great unknown.

We are all heroes of this nation. Although every member of this nation may not receive headlines in their passing, you are missed by those closest to you, as well as those whose lives you have left a permanent foot print.

News is simply an event that is reported to others, history are those events worth retelling and remembering. Heroes and people like oureselves are those that make news worthy of history.

jpwain says:

To add to what Lisboa said above:

The space program and space exploration in general is one of the most important things Earth civilization is pursuing right now.

Think of it in terms of client-server technology. If you have one server and it goes down, you're screwed. If you have lots of widely-distributed servers and one goes down, you don't have to worry as much. Consider that and consider how powerful we can now make atomic bombs.

Ecologically speaking, the human species is precariously balanced. In terms of Man's long-term survival, migrating the hell off this planet and up, up and away into space is a terribly important task.

Jackson says:

Actually, I think migrating up off this god-forsaken planet has always been a terribly important task, but no one has really felt so about it until recently.

lidge_34 says:

Leave it up to Joe to explain space exploration in computer terms. Funny thing is, it's probably the most logical explanation I've heard.

jpwain says:

Spotted [link http://www.davidgalbraith.org/archives/000190.html]here[/link]:

[quote]People complain about costly things such as space exploration and high energy physics experiments. Why spend money on these things when we have issues like poverty?

This argument is nihilistic. Why do we build monuments, paint, make films, write music, when there is still poverty all around? There is enough food in the world; poverty is the result of politics, exploitation and war above all.

Human space exploration is one of our greatest achievements. To try and rationalize unmanned space flight on the grounds of practicality misses the point, it is like saying that the Sistine Chapel would be brighter if it were whitewashed. [/quote]

Amen.

Jackson says:

While this is generally not such a happy topic, I did find this headline interestingly put and eliciting strange ideas: " 'Significant' Wing Part Found". Despite what they meant to say, I have to take the opportunity to say that I didn't realize that any part of a space shuttle would be insignificant.

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