The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke

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Christopher G. Adamo

A Patriot's Perspective

Christopher G. Adamo
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"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
-- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), English novelist and essayist

January 20, 2005

Next week marks the thirty-eighth anniversary of the launch pad fire of Apollo 1, which took the lives of Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee.  In a grim irony, that same week also marks the nineteenth anniversary of the Challenger disaster, as well as the second anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Though memorials are certainly in order, a closer examination of the nature and cause of each catastrophe reveals much about the nation throughout the past four decades.  Particularly in the wake of the Columbia tragedy and its ensuing investigations, disturbing trends in NASA emerged.

On May 25, 1961, with America still riding high on the successful fifteen-minute flight of Alan Shepard, President John Kennedy gave a speech in which he committed America to "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."  Kennedy's aggressive timetable stipulated that the feat should be accomplished before the end of the decade.

But while his obvious intention was to surpass Soviet technology, the 1970 deadline held a personal angle as well.  Undoubtedly, at the time that he made the speech, Kennedy fully intended to hold office until January 20, 1969, meaning that the possibility existed for the moon landing to occur during his tenure.  What President could possibly hope for a more enduring legacy?

In reaction to Kennedy's assassination in 1963, America rededicated itself to the goal he had set.  So the space program pressed forward at an almost unbelievable pace, with the first manned Apollo mission scheduled for barely five and a half years after Shepard's comparative barnstorming stunt.

In the frenzy to develop the technology for trans-lunar flight, considerations for the flammability of spacecraft cabin materials in a high-pressure oxygen environment were overlooked.  Thus was the stage set for the tragic Apollo 1 fire of January 27, 1967.

Nineteen years later, a different set of circumstances led to the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger.  Having been embarrassed by numerous delays in the previous shuttle flight, NASA was intent on seeing the Challenger launch on schedule.  With budgets dependent on a demonstrated ability to establish the shuttle system as a reliable space ferry, key players within the Space Administration, in a complete departure from previous policy, decided to take an unnecessary risk.

Though experts warned of the danger posed by cold weather, and the loss of flexibility in the seals of the spacecraft's enormous boosters, such concerns were overridden.  The craft was launched on schedule.  The forewarned failures did indeed occur, and seven lives, along with a multibillion-dollar space vehicle, were needlessly sacrificed.

Yet as grim as were these occurrences, they pale in comparison to the fate of the Space Shuttle Columbia.  In the years following the Challenger disaster, problems were noted and corrected, operating expertise gained, and the nation's shuttle fleet established itself as a reliable, and even safe, mode of orbital transport.

After a dozen years of dependable flight, manufacturing processes for the giant fuel tanks were altered, not to increase safety or dependability, but to be more "environmentally friendly".  Immediately, problems with the tanks began to manifest themselves, and risks to the orbiter became apparent.  But owing to the Clintonian political forces of the 1990's, these dangers were never addressed.  Eventually, as with all risk-taking on such high technology ventures, the odds caught up with the Columbia.

But it was during the post-mortem of the Columbia disaster that the ominous changes in NASA became glaringly apparent.  Rather than relentlessly pursuing the cause of the problem, and thus arriving at a proper fix, the behavior of NASA officials seemed an uncanny precursor to the 9-11 Commission, in which obvious causes of the disaster were suppressed for the sake of political considerations.

Clearly, NASA initially attempted to hide the fact that excessive deference to the twisted tenets of "political correctness" and environmental extremism had cost America its oldest shuttle orbiter, along with a crew of seven astronauts.

Whether it is the inarguable truth of unborn human life, the immutable nature of marriage, or the cruelly inalterable laws of physics, dire consequences are universally assured whenever reality is supplanted by the blindness of liberal ideology.  Though not always as horrifically spectacular, the result is no less inevitable than the nightmarish shower of debris over East Texas that, once the effects of  "political correctness" had been borne out, was all that remained of the glory of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

 

Copyright Copyright 2020 by Christopher G. Adamo & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Christopher G. Adamo was born in Cheyenne Wyoming, but has lived in several places, ranging from the East Coast to the West Coast, before settling back in southeastern Wyoming with his wife and sons.  An instrument technician by trade, he has held an interest in politics for many years and has worked within the Wyoming GOP as well as the Wyoming Christian Coalition.  His columns can also be found at ConservativeTruth.org and CheyenneNetwork.com.  He writes the weekly column
"A Patriot's Perspective" for America's Voices.  Visit Chris' website at ChrisAdamo.com.  You can also e-mail Chris at cadamo@americasvoices.org.

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