Twenty-five years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up on lift off. I was in fifth grade, had just come back from recess or lunch or somewhere, and our teacher told us. I was sad, I seem to remember, but didn't grasp it really. Well, 25 years later, living five minutes from Johnson Space Center, I grasp it. I don't admit it much around here, but before we moved here, I really didn't get space exploration. When there are homeless and hungry people, why are we spending money on space? But now that I have gotten to know so many people who have dedicated their lives to exploring God's creation and who make so many amazing, important, scientific discoveries, I am in awe, and very grateful for their sacrifices.
In November, Jason and I joined a caravan of people headed to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch of STS 133. Steve Lindsay, commander, is a friend of ours. We were honored to be invited by his family to watch and be there to support his sweet wife Diane. We were able to tour Kennedy and then waited around as the launch kept getting postponed until we returned home. Right now its scheduled for sometime between Feb. 24th and March 6th. I'm not sure that I will be able to go this next time, but we'll see. But touring Kennedy gave me even more of an admiration for the astronauts. I have toured JSC here and was amazed then, but there is a ride at Kennedy that makes you feel like you are in the shuttle. I realized how there is NO way you would ever get me on the real thing. And it reminded me how dangerous their job is.
As we were walking around, we saw this really long line of people waiting for something. We asked someone what they were waiting on. They were waiting to pay $10 to get an autograph of a retired astronaut! We had to laugh. We were about to go meet our friend Shane, an astronaut, for dinner. We wondered what he would do if we sold tickets to eat dinner with him. He didn't think it was funny. But it reminded us how they are heroes, and we take that for granted down here. Shane has told us the process for applying and being accepted. They are truly the cream of the crop.
Here are some pictures of the memorial at Kennedy for fallen astronauts. I didn't realize how many there were. Many have died while training in airplanes as many are pilots before they go to work for NASA. I was thinking about the memorial site today. Its amazing when you go visit how you can be talking and joking and when you turn the corner to see it, everyone falls silent. Its a sad yet awe-inspiring place.
If you could please be praying for my friends down here who work for NASA. Probably half of our church works there, and now that I live and work among these people, I admire them all so much for their sacrifices. Many are living day to day now waiting to see if they will still have a job. It is stressful. They have chosen to serve their country in this way, and I am honored to know so many of them. It is not just the astronauts, but their families, and the people who design and build the machines, who watch the weather, who watch the space debris, who design the suits, who plan and design the experiments, who make the food and the nuts and bolts. Every little part is important, as we have seen. They are all heroes in my opinion. And I honor them today.