We shall never cease


We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
-T. S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

179 thoughts on “We shall never cease”

  1. Know it’s been said, but very good quote Wil. I go to Virginia Tech and have a psyc teacher that tells us that every class “so we can expand or horizons.” It’s very true and touching in this instance. Thanx

  2. I truly cannot find the words to express my sadness regarding this tragedy. So many horrible things have been happening in the world lately that I hesitate to turn on the news for fear of what new tragedy may be unfolding.
    Then this happens.
    For me, the space program has always been an inspiration – a glimpse of what the future might hold for us all. When all else in the world seemed bleak, I could turn my eyes skyward, where people from different nations worked together with a common vision.
    Truly a sad, sad day. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone touched by this tragedy.

  3. Remembering David Brown, William and Mary class of ’78. One day someone will step foot on Mars, and we will remember your dream.

  4. i thought the president had a good quote:
    “The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home.” – GWBush.
    i’m not much of a fan of his but this line had me bummin’.
    cheers, wil.

  5. I had the unfortunate circumstance of spending
    the day homebound.
    I saw the whole specacle live – start to finish.
    NASA engineers spoke of telemetry indicating
    astronouts on board knew doom was looming for at
    least 5 solid min. before the …..
    I’ll never be the same.

  6. I was 18 months old when Columbia went on her first mission. I sat in front of the t.v. with my mother and watched her take off.
    Then other shuttles joined her: Challenger for a time, Endeavor, Atlantis and Discovery. A family of five sisters.
    I know some of you may think me strange to ascribe human attributes to machines, but, to me, these shuttles are just as important as the humans they carry. And as of late, they have not been treated with much respect. Ophios made a wonderful point about how NASA has had to deal with funding issues. Politicians talk about how important the space program is, but never seem to want to put in the required maintenance. And if you don’t take care of something, be it man or machine, it will fail you eventually. Today, one of the men who piloted Columbia described the shuttle as a “butterfly on a bullet”. These shuttles are butterflies in their complexity and design and hopefully this tragedy has reaffirmed how well they must be treated in order to bring our people back safely. I also pray that Washington will help in this effort by allowing the space program more funding so that no more families will lose loved ones and Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis won’t lose another sister.
    “You treat her like a lady, and she’ll always bring you home.”
    -Dr. Leonard H. McCoy to Lt. Commander Data on the Enterprise D

  7. I am speechless shock and sad and especially sad about the people who go to ebay and sell the debris and ebay allows it to me its disrespectful and cruel and rude.I hope when we get to mars that they be honor on that mission or something. I aint a fan of bush but he did a good job when he gave his personal speech today. I was 9 when the challenger blew up in jan 28 1986 and it just brings bad memories back and I sat in front of the tv and saw it blew up so it amazes me that after set 11 we have another big loss and hope the space program will move ona nd get back into space soon.

  8. What happened? I mean what the hell just happened? Its a rhetorical question honestly. I just I dont know what to think or say. They were interviewed I believe a few days ago I saw it on tv. The wierd thing is I never watch it. It never really interested me, but for some reason i was glued when i saw it. The first Israeli Astronaut. I thought it was awesome. I am not Israeli or know much about that culture but I felt proud for some reason. It was a great accomplishment. when people succeed in dreams like that even if you dont relate, you feel a sense of pride because they did something that they dreamed and are living what was in their head all those years. Its a goal we all have and that is where the relevancy to our lives is. The first Indian(Indian American I belive forgive if I am wrong I cant remember somehow) woman in space. It was her second time up there but still its a great thing. I think i was glued to the interview because of her mainly cuz she reminded me of a friend from years ago.
    Something this tragic shouldnt happen. Unfortunately no matter how much it SHOULDNT happen these tings do happen and it hurts immensely. I cried today when i found out because they were doing so well and they were all so happy. And yes, I do have flashbacks of 5th grade in class watching the challenger go off and be proud that a teacher like one of my own was up there only to be horrified that they were all gone. People you respect leaving your lives whether you knew them or not hurts either way.
    I respect them, I morn the loss, and I keep them in my prayers. They will never be forgotten by me.

  9. please write to your representative that you wish to continue support for future space programs (if you do, that is). The loss will be of course hard on NASA, though NASA has been through these hard times before. The only things that have kept them going are your enthusiastic support for space exploration and the supply of the resources (i.e., money and pure talents).
    Please don’t let the Congress and Bush administration an excellent opportunity to kill future space programs.
    Thank you.

  10. I remember when I got home at 7am (arizona time) and turned on the TV only to see the explosion. I was shocked. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen. All those people dead. Just like that. It is so sad.

  11. I’m always grateful to log onto Wil’s site and read the comments of the community that’s been established here. In the spirit of CONTINUING the space program, I offer this:
    by William Earnest Henley

  12. The loss of the Shuttle crew is a tremendous blow. I fear that this may be the beginning of the end of U.S. manned spaceflight. If the shuttles are grounded another nation will have to
    pick up the ball, or the Space Station will never be finished. The replacement vehicles for the shuttle should have been started over 10 years ago, but have never been funded. In less then 9 years all shuttles will be grounded. If a major push were to start now, there would still be a period without a U.S. space vehicle while new ones were being built.

  13. From Israel, we are all sad here, and sad for you Americns as well. so sad, so many things to say, and at the same time speechless.

  14. =( It’s so horrible that this happened. I had all sorts of things to do yesterday, but then when I got up and turned on the tv, I was drawn in like a moth to a candle. I think I watched the nonstop news coverage for like, 6 straight hours.
    I’m so glad that catastrophies like this aren’t a common occurance at NASA. This is what, the first major scarey accident since Challenger, and that was like, 17 years ago, right? I think NASA’s doing a pretty good job, given the potentially dangerous nature of space travel.

  15. can’t think of a damn thing to say that hasn’t been said allready, in nicer words..
    just a sad day, and a terrible loss of life…

  16. I found this on the telescope mailing list that I subscribe to. Don’t know if it’s the author’s original works, or if it’s from somewhere, but I found it very moving and sums up how I feel about all the events of the past 24 hours.
    We came from the stars
    and to the stars we shall return.
    Each generation one step closer,
    standing on the shoulders
    of our mothers and fathers before us.
    And when we fall (as we must),
    there is nothing to do but get up,
    and get on with it.
    The stars are in our blood and in our nature.
    Phil said it perfectly,
    we can not falter.
    Yesterday I was in shock.
    Today I grieve.
    Tomorrow we pick up the pieces, figure out what went wrong, fix it, and move on.
    We owe it to the brave seven souls that perished yesterday to continue.

  17. When I woke up yesterday, I was nervous; I’m taking a placement exam for one of the most pretigious Catholic high schools in Oregon. My stomach was churning and I walked into my mom’s room; she was crying and watching the New york News (we only get new york channels on our satelite) and I thought someone had died, you know like a fmaily member. But it was this.
    I cried too; it wasn’t a good day for a placement exam.
    Love, The Fish

  18. I was in the 3rd grade when Challenger exploded. We had so many projects and events surrounding the shuttle launch- I thought space was exciting and so important. I remember not being able to comprehend that the astronauts were gone. Our teachers were crying in th corner- why? I was completely convinced that the astronauts had escaped in a capsule or parachute. My mom had to finally explain to me that they had died. And I cried.
    17 years later, I am now married, I have seen alot happen in the world yet, it is not any easier. I am 8 years old again. Even with a husband and step-mom that has worked for NASA- it is still exciting and important. God bless the families, and the NASA family. God be with us while we grieve. I take comfort in knowing that Columbia’s mission is not over, they are now exploring a new frontier. Heroes.
    Katie in Tennessee

  19. The Green Hills of Earth was what ran thru my head yesterday morning, too, Chris. However, the third line should read:
    Let us rest our eyes on FLEECY skies
    Nonetheless, it’s brought me near to tears everytime I’ve quoted it to someone the last 24 hrs.The only problem with that, of course, is that they didn’t “pray for one last landing.” They spent every waking moment trying to get into space, and they succeeded in their dreams.
    Good luck, crew of the Columbia. Give our love and respect to the crew of the Challenger, as well as Grissom, White, and Chaffee, and all others who have given their lives to make the impossible possible.

  20. In the name of epigraphs, this appeals to me. I’ve already seen articles defaming the space program. In the name of our humanity, we cannot afford to lose it. We cannot afford to lose sight of the truly important aspects of who we are. We cannot get lost in tragedy as so many of us have for so many months now.
    That said, this is one of the saddest things I’ve heard in a long time. I was three when the Challenger exploded. I don’t remember it, but I will remember this.
    I think of this and the seemingly imminent American war with Iraq, and I wonder what our priorities are. As my friend Ryan says, with the money we’re spending on “defense”, “we could buy every American a rose, but we’d rather have more bombs to drop on civilians”.
    We can’t afford to lose the space program. We can’t affford to lose pure research. We can’t afford to stop being explorers, to lose our curiosity. We can’t afford, in any aspect of life, in response to any event, to be paralysed by tragedy and fear.
    That’s enough from me.
    For the crew of the Columbia:
    In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
    Neutral Milk Hotel
    What a beautiful face
    I have found in this place
    that is circling all ’round the sun.
    What a beautiful dream
    that could flash on the screen
    in the blink of an eye and be gone from me
    soft and sweet
    let me hold it close and keep it here
    let me . . .
    And one day we will die
    and our ashes will fly
    from the aeroplane over the sea
    but for now we are young
    let us lay in the sun
    and count every beautiful thing we can see
    love to be
    in the arms of all I’m keeping here
    let me . . .
    What a curious life
    we have found here tonight
    there is music that sounds from the street.
    There are lights in the clouds
    and there’s ghost all around
    hear a voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me
    soft and sweet
    how the notes all bend unreachable
    the trees . . .
    Now, how I remember you
    how I would push my fingers through
    your mouth to make those muscles move
    that made your voice so smooth and sweet
    But now we keep where we don’t know
    Our secrets sleep in winter clothes
    with the one you loved so long ago
    now you don’t even know his name . . .
    What a beautiful face
    I have found in this place
    that is circling all ’round the sun.
    And when we meet on a cloud,
    I’ll be laughing out loud
    I’ll be laughing at everyone I see
    can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all . . .

  21. My heartdeep sympathy to all those involved with the loss of Challenger – the irony of it was I was watching TNG when it was flashed on the screen about the disaster – in a way fitting
    Thanks Wil for this gesture
    From you allies in the United Kingdom

  22. I don’t know if anyone will see this (bottom of the pile and all), but here goes.
    I saw Columbia launch for the first time. Not on television; I was there. Young, but there. I don’t remember much besides the loud noise and the ground shaking, but from that moment on, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was seven and home sick the day that Challenger blew up. As a kid from Florida, it had a certain immediacy to it. When the shuttle launched in the early morning, we could see it from our backyard in Naples, rising like a star into the heavens. It was so close. I knew teachers who had applied for the Challenger program, and others who knew Christa McAulliffe. There was talk then also that the space program would die. It didn’t: in fact, federal funding increased. It’s funny how we take it for granted until a tragedy like this makes us realize how amazing it really is that space flight is possible at all.
    While I dreamed of being a mission specialist, I learned a lot about the space program. I watched many launches, on tv, in my backyard, and even up close. I talked to astronauts and other people in the NASA program. And the thing that always struck me was a sense of wonder and the love of discovery. My own sense of wonder ultimately drew me to theology, but I always kept that feeling of respect, even awe, for those who broke away from the earth to touch the stars. So when I read the news on CNN.com yesterday morning, and then watched all day yesterday as the events unfolded, I mourned those men and women. It takes people of incredible bravery and dedication to do what they do.
    For those who worry that this will kill the space program: don’t. It has done, is doing, and will continue to do incredible things. My husband works for the Chandra X-Ray telescope, which was brought into orbit by Columbia. It and the Hubble are expanding our knowledge and understanding of our universe at an incredible rate, and neither would be possible without the manned space flight program. The space station is also doing marvelous things, including creating perfect crystals in zero-g. Plus, private interests benefit from government contracts related to the program, so they’ll keep in going :)
    Certainly write your representatives and show your support. But have faith. And pray for those who died.

  23. “From Israel, we are all sad here, and sad for you Americns as well. so sad, so many things to say, and at the same time speechless.
    :-(” (Posted by Shmulik at February 2, 2003 08:53 AM)
    Of all the comments I have read through on this thread, the above comment from Shmulik in Israel is the most extraordinary and noteworthy to me. Yes, people died and we are all upset. I think it’s abhorrent that the media is trying to tout this tragic event as a “terrorist attack.” Anyone with a brain knows better than that!
    Thank you, Shmulik, for stepping across the hatred and suspicion and offering condolences. May I offer mine to you as well? You and Israel have suffered no less of a loss than we, and I believe it’s important for us all to remember that. It may be what helps everyone keep their sensibility and spirit of cooperation in these critical times.

  24. Everyone seems to be offering their condolences to the people of America and Israel, and to the families of the men and women of Columbia as well – let me do so too.
    From Slovenia – a heartfelt goodbye to those that carry the torch of mankind to the sky. Each time they ride a pillar of fire into the sky, our dreams and hopes go with them. Now, our prayers follow them to Valhalla, ad they did the men of Apollo 1, and the crew of the Challenger.
    The “old europe” may not agree with the politics of president Bush, it might think that Americans aren’t the nicest people around, it might be inclined to think that they should really be a bit more subdued, but it nonetheless appreciates you and shares your joy of achievements. To have a dream litteraly explode in your face is more than anyone should bare.
    As some people share their thoughts in poems that encourage them, express their sadness and share their grief – let me do so too. Funeral Blues, by W.H. Auden – paraphrased by me.
    “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and the muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message They Are Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
    The Sky was their North my South, my East and West,
    Their working week and their Sunday rest,
    Their Noon, their midnight, their talk, their song:
    They thought that love would last for ever: they were wrong.
    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
    Hail Columbia.

  25. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. You will NOT be forgotten.
    If it makes the heartache a little easier to bear, I do not believe the crew would have suffered. If the cabin decompressed at 200,700 ft they would have instantly lost consciousness and would have felt no pain.
    They have floated among the stars and touched the face of the Lord.
    God bless xx

  26. Thank you for this.
    We are all here for a brief moment in time. Cherish each nuance and let it last an eternity….and hopefully die doing that which you love to do……..

  27. Thanks for the appropriate quote, Wil. I’ve always been fond of that and two other that seemd appropriate: “For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the Vision of the World and all the Wonder that wuld be,” Alfred Lord Tennyson. And, “Something hidden. Go and find it.” Ruyard Kipling.
    I’ve been so down about this all weekend, not because the astronauts died doing something pioneering and still dangerous, but they did so in AGING vehicles instead of the newest our technology can muster. I lost a personal heroine – Kapala Chawla’s picture has graced on of my personal web pages since 1997 and I was heartbroken to know that she was aboard this mission.
    I’ve been a fan of space exploration since I was a little kid. I sign off all my messages “ad astra”. I dreamed of becomign an astronaut myself and loved the science of it all. Even now, if someone said I could go up in the next shuttle mission, even without them knowing for sure what went wrong this time, I’d go. Knowing all the risks, I’d go. I just think it’s such a fabulous opportunity and something so important to do – being amoung the first explorers into space. I see value in it.
    I just wish more of us felt that way and that our space program wasn’t having to send 20+ year old space craft into space.

  28. My sympathy goes to the friends and family of the American, Indian and Israeli astronauts lost in this terrible event.
    I do wonder though whether the response in the blogging community and media is in perspective?
    This week 7 were killed in a plane crash in East Timor, 8 were killed in a train crash in Australia and 40 in a train crash in Zimbabwe.
    Why does the shuttle tragedy (and it is one) generate so much attention and these others do not?
    Yes we should mourn the loss of these fine astronauts – but perhaps we should also try to keep some perspective. Just my observations – perhaps I’m wrong…??

  29. I am just wondering if everybody who cried about the Space Shuttle accident also cried about the 4 soliders who lost thier lives in a helicopter accident 2 days earlier in Afganistan. Space travel is a dangerous business and all 7 of them knew that. People die every single day in untimly ways, but I guess it’s not a tragic unless you die a noble death in the Space Shuttle. I guess I am just saying lets all keep some perspective.

  30. A truly sad occasion. There’s been a lot of death in the news between the explosion in Nigeria and the soldiers who died in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan and now this. I see a lot of people saying “so what, lots of people die”. I really think it’s the circumstances of this tragedy that make it so extraordinary. For people who look to the stars it’s always so tragic to remember the Apollo (although I hadn’t been born) and the Challenger (which I saw happen live when I was 9).
    It’s really the scale of the event. These people were explorers. They represent so many good things about humanity: intelligence, bravery and determination. I can’t say how sorry I feel for Israel to have seen someone who had become a national hero die in such a horrible fashion. Most of all, I feel for the families who will never see their loved ones again.
    Rest in peace guys. Your loss will be long remembered and all that you had yet to do in life will be sadly missed.

  31. Thousands of people die every day, many of them wonderful, accomplished and loved. The Shuttle astronauts assumed a risk in the name of science and exploration, and for that they should be respected. But I’ll save my mourning for the poor, the hungry and the miserable. For children slowly starving and women being beaten to death. I’m a scientist myself, and while I know that it’s valuable to study spiderwebs in zero gravity, it’s more valuable to make sure that children are being fed and receiving medical attention. I think Americans should be demanding that their government allocate their funds to helping the poor and needy, instead of spending on the military and space exploration.

  32. I said elsewhere, and I’ll say here — it is not for anyone else to tell me how and for whom to grieve. There are tragedies every day, it is true, but this one was so sudden, and such a blow to almost the only forward-looking government program that’s in the public eye, that I think our feelings of loss aren’t unwarranted.
    I was very proud to see President Bush say, unequivocally, that we would not give up on space exploration. It is our destiny to explore the planets and, eventually, the stars; if we stay Earthbound, ALL of our problems will continue to worsen. Many modern technologies are spinoffs of the space effort. NASA has paid its own budget dozens of times over in the innovations produced in the last four decades. This is not “wasted money”; this is an investment — and, historically, a damned good one.

  33. — 4 soliders who lost thier lives in a helicopter accident 2 days earlier in Afganistan —
    Why? You, granted, did liberate a foreign nation from a regime of opression, and they should be thankfull, but now you occupy it. Just as you occupy other parts of the world where something is not to your liking. Just as you will wage war on the people of Iraq, and not upon their leaders that push them into where they are.
    You spread “Liberty, Justice and the Pursuit of Happyness” across the globe with the strength of bombers and the guns of tanks. When your allies oppose you, you call them “old europe”. I come from the “new europe”, as mr. Powell so nicely said, and we oppose it as well.
    And no, we are not muslim. We do not feel for Saddam Husein. We do not like opression.
    But we do not like the brute force way of solving things. We do not appreciate sidestepping the Security Council, and we do not appreciate dragging NATO into a war that will cost lives and gain nothing.
    In Columbia and the Space program, the world sees the pinnacle of achievement, braving the last frontier for manking, and making a difference that will someday change everyone and everything.
    In the US military, the world sees a dangerous force in the hands of a megalomaniac madman. Iraq is not a thread to world peace. George W. Bush and his staff are.
    I do not like death. I do not wish for anyone to die. But I know that people must die for fundamental changes to occur. I already feel for the families of American soliders that will die in Iraq. I wil grieve with them, but I will not grieve for them. I will not grieve for them.
    Their deaths will ultimately serve a purpose – not liberating Iraq, not spreading freedom across the globe, but rather showing the people America to play as they were part of the team, not an individual. The world has no place for individualists.
    Someone suggested taking the money from the Space Programme and giving it to the poor.
    In Koper, the major port of Slovenia, the USS Harry S. Truman is currently docked. It costs as much as a shuttle, and brings not peace but destruction. Take the money from there.
    And let us grieve for the heroes that we choose.

  34. (James really needs to GET A CLUE (and quick…). He’s pasted the same assanine comment on several blogs I frequent and it’s getting old fast.
    Wil, a wonderful tribute to a brave crew of men and women who knew full well what could happen.
    God Bless the crew of Columbia.

  35. When we go to space, we go not as Americans…
    We go as human beings, for all mankind…
    This is why the death of our seven voyagers is such a tragedy…
    They didn’t reach out to touch the stars for their own benefit, but for all humanity…
    For all the possibilities of humankind…
    For all that we COULD be…
    Let’s make ourselves beautiful, for them…
    Roll on, Columbia.

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