Seven Astronauts, One Fate

We name our shuttles for our aspirations--Atlantis, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour--the risks built into the very idea. Columbia, the fleet's pioneer, was named after an old Boston sloop that was the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe, carrying a cargo of otter skins to China. Any risk much repeated can become routine, and so it was for shuttle flights, except when they become tragic. That's when we are reminded that knowledge doesn't come easy and that many consequences are unintended, especially when we set off on an adventure. ... Columbia was the 88th mission since the Challenger was lost in January 1986--one flight lost to the cold, one perhaps to the heat.

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