Posted 01 February 2003 - 11:17 AM
Rationally, there's no chance that this is terrorism. Hopefully people will soon stop bandying such silliness around. The problem is, not everyone is rational. Due to the coincidence of one of the astronauts being Israeli, there are bound to be a thousand conspiracy theories, and probably the Muslim-bashers here and abroad will welcome any flimsy excuse to bash some more.
But the fact is, of course, that any given astronaut is in more mortal danger driving down the freeway to the Cape than travelling into space. The conditions are far more controlled in the latter case. And there have only been two catastrophes out of 107 STS missions -- that's over a 98 percent success record, which is pretty good.
I kinda don't think this will lead to a moratorium on spaceflight as extensive as the post-Challenger one. At the very least, there are still people up there on the ISS who would need to be retrieved. Otherwise, the shuttle program is much more mature and proven than it was back in '86. Certainly there will be extra care taken, efforts made to avoid such problems in the future, but nothing as extreme as what happened last time.
Someone earlier in this thread cited this as proof that spaceflight still isn't routine. I have to disagree. Air travel is routine, and plane crashes still happen. Car travel is routine, but it's one of the top three non-disease killers in America, right up there with guns and tobacco. "Routine" isn't where nobody dies. "Routine" is where people accept the risk and move on. So what happens next will determine whether spaceflight has become routine.
"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right." -- xkcd
"The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." -- "H. G. Wells," Time After Time
-- Among the Wild Cybers
story collection now funding! Closes May 30!
-- My homepage and blog
Facebook Author Page