I'll probably piss of some folks by saying this, but that's tough. This is my blog.

Shut up about the Shuttle already.

I'm sick of everyone jumping on the tragic double standard's bandwagon. Really sick of it.

How many people die in this country EVERY DAY because of car accidents? What isn't that on the evening news, front page of the paper, and all over the blog world? Are those deaths somehow less important than those of a handfull of astronauts?


So if it's not that these folks were somehow more valuable, what's behind this? The loss of the physical shuttle? I think not. We have a few more in the fleet.

Is it the surprise? I'd hope not. We've all known that spaceflight is dangerous. Heck, most of us were alive for the first shuttle accident. Some even remember the problems that the Apollo and Gemini programs encountered.

I just don't get it.

Of course I feel for the families of the crew--just like anytime I hear of an unfortunate death. But I just don't see the reason for all the publicity and coverage.

Do people really care so much about this or is the media driving this? If it is, how do we get them to stop already?

Go ahead. Flame if you must. But I'd rather you try to enlighten me a bit.

Posted by jzawodn at February 01, 2003 06:47 PM

Reader Comments
# jr said:

I feel the same level of grief over this loss of life as I do over any loss of life.

on February 1, 2003 07:00 PM
# jr said:

.. but I agree that the over coverage is nuts.

on February 1, 2003 07:03 PM
# john said:

Because our hearts still beat the drumbeat of childhood dreams.

Read William Gibson today.

on February 1, 2003 07:06 PM
# jarango said:

I've tried to stay away from the media today -- all of the news I've gotten has come through the web. As a result, I haven't experienced the media frenzy first-hand. However, while doing a little shopping in the physical world I've run into stores that have had TV sets on and coverage of the shuttle disaster seems to have been playing all day ad nauseum. I can see how you would be getting sick of it.

Although I'm cynical about the media's motives, I can understand why folks are especially affected by these seven deaths and the circumstances in which they happened. For many people, the space program represents the grandest, most inspiring adventure we overdeveloped apes have yet undertaken. The space program in general, and the shuttle in particular, signify optimism and a spirit of discovery that is rare in our world of greed, war, and fear. To see a part of that "great adventure" literally come crashing to the ground in flames is disheartening.

Don't worry. A few of days from now we'll go back to getting bombarded with the latest on how the ramp-up to the Iraqi war is going. Now that is something to be sick of.

on February 1, 2003 07:27 PM
# Charles said:

The Space Program represents one of the higher aspirations of man, and when it fails, our higher aspirations fail too. But when we realize those astronauts knew the risks, and that they would have gone ahead even if the risks were higher, we can for a brief moment have some faith in mankind.

on February 1, 2003 07:42 PM
# mzdw said:

Because these weren't random people scattered across the country dying in car accidents, they were seven people we asked to go into outer space for us. Because they were among the very, very few (less than a thousand people have ever gone into orbit) to travel to a place where millions would want to go. Because their deaths will put an end to manned space flight (except for the people currently on the ISS) for a year or two, if not longer. (The "few more in the fleet" won't be going anywhere anytime soon. It took two-and-a-half years after the Challenger explosion before another shuttle launch.) Because it happened in a horribly dramatic fashion over the United States. Why shouldn't the coverage be extended through the day while people react, respond, report from the various crash sites, NASA centers, talk about the search for answers? This is what the news is for. Seven people die what, every couple of minutes around the world? That's life.

on February 1, 2003 08:17 PM
# kasia said:

Because tragic as everyday deaths are they do not affect us directly so it's easy to miss them.. this does.

Like it or not, these people are (were) heroes to many.. achieving the impossible.. helping build a dream bigger than all of us. Countries working together for a bigger purpose than defending a piece of dirt in a middle of a continent surrounded by desserts.

Yes, it is tragic that people die daily and hardly anyone notices.. and it's also tragic that these astronauts died as well..

-- back to cynical mode --
It's media, they thrive on things like this.

on February 1, 2003 10:12 PM
# Craig said:

Jeremy, I have to say I agree. I think this link pretty much sums it up:

40 die in train wreck

on February 1, 2003 10:53 PM
# Damon said:

I agree as well - While this is a very sad thing that has happened, I heard it being called the 9-11 of Texas. Personally, I think there's no comparison. In addition, albeit a very small insignificant point, Star Wars was supposed to be on tv today. The station didn't show Star Wars because of the disaster. I would have understood if they were covering it, but they just put random shows on instead with a banner at the bottom every once in a while stating that they weren't showing Star Wars because of the disaster. ... Call me heartless, but come on.

on February 2, 2003 01:42 AM
# MichaelE said:

With ya on this one... After the first few hours I knew enough.. Let NASA do their analysis and then tell us something... Otherwise let's move on.

on February 2, 2003 05:05 AM
# brandt said:

jeremy i couldn't agree with you more. and while i do feel for the families of the crew, i don't understand how them going into space makes them "heroes." they did something interesting, yes, but they understood the risks, and as you said, space flight is dangerous.

what pisses me off is that 7 people died and yet there are millions of people dying from HIV/AIDS and they continue to fight on and live in spite of their illness. now those people are heroes.

on February 2, 2003 08:14 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Thank you Jeremy, for doing my blog work for today. :)

on February 2, 2003 09:20 AM
# dee see said:

"they were seven people we asked to go into outer space for us."

They're not tragic, reluctant heros. They volunteered for the job knowing the risks and chose to do it anyway. Certainly it's a sad thing to happen, but i'm not sure if it's all-day-coverage kind of news.

Think it would be covered in the same marathon fashion if they died in a far less dramatic car accident on the way to the launchpad (with nothing blowing up)?

on February 2, 2003 12:25 PM
# Juan Pablo said:

It's always sad when people dies. But all human lives should have the same value. Do you know how many people dies here in 3rd world from curable diseases or malnutrition?.
How many people could have got a better life with all the zillions wasted on your space program? Think it.

on February 2, 2003 01:00 PM
# kasia said:

If you're looking for wasted money there are plenty of government programs to look at before nasa.. A lot of the technology we use on daily basis (including medical technology that saves lives) came directly out of the research done by the space program, so it's a little bit shortsighted to say it's 'wasted money'..

As far as complaining about news coverege.. I admit it, I don't complain because I don't watch it so it doesn't bother me.. hmm.. there's a lesson here.

on February 2, 2003 01:08 PM
# Tim said:

I'm with you Jeremy. I don't get it.

on February 2, 2003 10:12 PM
# paul said:

I'd rather watch 24-hour coverage of the Columbia accident than the frenzy over a useless parasite like Princess Diana or (gag) JFK Jr.

on February 3, 2003 06:55 AM
# Justin said:

Well, I'll commemorate them, personally -- because I believe they deserve to be commemorated, for taking these risks on our behalf.

Like millions around the world, I've always wanted to go into space, ever since I was a kid -- and without the astronauts of yesterday and today, pushing the envelope of manned spaceflight, this dream would never happen. No matter how mundane their tasks may seem, the entire space project is slowly but surely optimizing the technology and knowledge that'll be required for us to visit and explore space.

Sure, it's an everyday risk for them (well, every year, whatever). And sure, that's their job. But taking the risks, and dying in the pursuit of the goal, is a heroic act IMO. They're doing it on behalf of all of us -- pushing science and technology's envelope.

(Mind you, I bet the news coverage over there is a maudlin-fest...)

on February 3, 2003 10:56 AM
# Steve Lambert said:

Jeremy, you might prefer the very straightforward, no hype coverage at Spaceflightnow.

As you might expect, this is very much a local story here in Houston with the Johnson Space Center in the city and the debris search area being so close. Even here local TV stuck to just reporting during the regular newscasts beginning Sunday (although there might have been an extended edition).

Just to pass along a sense of the atmosphere, it really has become a personal story in Houston. A neighbor of mine is a NASA engineer and I swear I saw him in a TV news clip in the woods with a GPS unit on his back. The short clip of a charred space suit helmet found in a field sure brought a lump to my throat. In Clear Lake, the suburb near the JSC where most current astronauts live, people are mourning the loss of their neighbors and fellow church members. And then there was the owner of the restaurant that's a favorite of NASA employees who barely pulled himself together to make some kind comments to a reporter about a few of his favorite customers.

I'm not sure about the pile of flowers, etc. accumulating around the sign at the JSC entrance, though. This is a new "tradition" to maybe try to put a stop to.

on February 3, 2003 05:06 PM
# Scott said:

What I love is the calls for the total restructuring of NASA. GIMME A BREAK! NASA estimated a failure rate of once every 100 flights and this was flight 88 since Challenger. In total there have been 3 accidents, oddly they all happened in the same calendar week.

Learn from what happened and move on and PLEASE don't replace humans with robots in space.

on February 10, 2003 11:23 AM
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