I’ve often wondered what NASA and our space program would have been had Christa McAuliffe made it to orbit. You can run through a host of what if scenarios:
- What if the O-rings had held together structurally on STS51
- What if the temperature in Florida was warmer
- What if there was more warning and the crew could have escaped
- What if (since we now believe the crew survived initially) we could have gotten to them sooner
- What would have happened to the space program regarding future astronauts had this minimally trained school teacher made it to orbit.
The fact is, we gained a new understanding and knowledge from the disaster.
Jon Cowart of NASA, is someone that I follow on twitter. His thoughts:
Colossal disasters…are ultimately failures of design, but the lessons learned from those disasters can do more to advance engineering knowledge than all the successful machines and structures in the world.
But when it comes down to a personal level and response… no one said it better than President Reagan. I am not sure that any other President that we’ve had since, would have been so eloquent