On February 1st, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia was torn apart upon reentry after completing its successful mission to the International Space Station. The crew failed to return home.
The idea of space travel was, is and will be a risky business much like anything that pushes the edge of technology, like flight, flying of any kind.
And yet we do it, or at least some do it, because of their need to do something different, if not first at least not last.
And no, space flight is not the first nor the last to lose those that take the risk. And yes, there are causes of what happens, that should have been probably been better addressed, but either weren't seen or if seen, not considered to be important, enough.
And America has been lucky, if not good, to have lost only a few, Apollo 1, STS Challenger and STS Columbia.
Next near space is to become a venue of adventure for a price and investment of private funds. And yes, the risk is part of what people are buying for a ride, a real ride, not the ersatz version found in an amusement park.
The idea of people in space will, like in the past, be done first by the brave and committed and then followed by those less brave and maybe not as committed who see an opportunity. And the opportunity is great, and potentially profitable.
And yet, the challenge remains as to what we do and why we do it, now and in the future, and to those that want and take the risk.