Ahh, actually the tiles were dried at Lockheed Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale -- where my dad worked (my dad worked on top-secret military satellites, among other things he still isn't able to tell me about). Here's NASA's FAQ on the tiles. "Surface heat dissipates so quickly that a tile can be held by its corners with a bare hand only seconds after removal from a 2,300 degrees F oven, while the center of the tile still glows red with heat."
Another Silicon Valley connection? The tiles. I'm not sure if they were developed here, but I remember as a kid going to a science fair over at Nasa Ames (my dad worked at Lockheed Missiles and Space, next door) and they were very proud of their new heat shielding tiles. They put a tile in an oven, heated it up to something like 2000 degrees, took it out, and let me hold it in my bare hands while it still glowed red hot. I never forgot that demonstration. It sounds like something went dreadfully wrong in the heat shield. Only an inch or two of lightweight tiles separated the crew from a successful landing or a dreadful death.
Oh, and some folks I knew built the Hubble here in Silicon Valley and one of my son's classmates' dads is designing Hubble's replacement (which has been delayed due to lack of funding, from what I hear).
Most Americans really don't understand the value of the space program. NASA (and our government) hasn't done a good job of explaining how scientific research helps us all.
Of course, we get the government (and the research) we deserve. I notice that President Bush spent a bit of his speech talking about God again, but didn't use the time he had to sell the science to us. He's not a dummy (well, not a political one) -- he's doing that on purpose. He knows that talking about God gets votes and talking about Science doesn't.
Hoopty opines that it was budget cutbacks that brought this on.
Silicon Valley's connection to Columbia is stronger than I thought. One of the seven astronauts killed lived here, the San Jose Mercury News says. The Indian community in Fremont is stunned.
Reading around the Web today, I'm reminded why I'm not a professional writer. I can't find the words that Dan Gillmor found, to say "we must go on."
Some more thoughts, though. Dave Winer and my son and Patrick went to see Lord of the Rings last night. On the way home we got into a discussion about why we're all here, about God. About space.
I remember looking up and seeing the stars through the trees and remarking something like "the Hubble Telescope has -- in one square inch of our sky -- already found more than 100,000 stars. Dave chimed in and said that the Hubble was a remarkable thing for humans to do. The Hubble was put up there by the Space Shuttle that burned up today. It served us well.
Every time I see a picture from Hubble, I'll remember Columbia and the seven people who died aboard it. Thank you for making my life a richer one.
Yes, Dan, we must go back to space. It is our destiny.
Columbia has given us the tools to look into the eyes of God. Er, creation. The space program has given us a gift that we haven't even started to appreciate yet.
It's worth the risk. We must go back.
One nice thing about weblogging is now we can link to our family members' thoughts. Imagine my great grandchildren coming back here to see what my brother and I were thinking about the events?
You know, last April I took my son Patrick to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where we saw a Space Shuttle on the launch pad. We also visited a memorial for the astronauts who've been killed while in pursuit of their craft. Now we have seven more names to add to that memorial. So sad.
I remember thinking that we take our space program for granted. Whenever you go into space and travel at 14,000 miles per hour, there is a chance for catastrophe.
It reminds me, once again, that tomorrow isn't guaranteed and that you can't predict how human history will go.
Now that I'm 38, and lived through a few of these national tragedies, I'm thinking once again that this will be yet another marker in my life's timeline. Yes, I'll remember where I was on February 1, 2003. I was at 51 Mirabelli Cir, San Jose, reading weblogs with my son Patrick.
Patrick, what do you remember of the Kennedy Space Center trip, and how does it affect you today? "Well, I liked it. I liked the big huge shuttle engine and I liked seeing the Space Shuttle on the platform.
"I remember seeing the big huge space ship (the Saturn rocket)." How did that make you feel? "I thought it was cool."
Would you want to go to space? "No way." Why not? "Cause I don't want to get blown up."
Well, Patrick, as you get older, you'll see that some things are worth the risk of getting hurt or getting blown up. Living in fear is to admit you've lost. Plus, it keeps you from discovering stuff about yourself and your world. Would you rather die while doing something worthwhile, like the seven astronauts today died, or would you rather die of some illness here on earth?
Patrick: "I will go with the second one."
I'll remind my son of these words when he starts behaving dangerously. Doing dangerous things makes you alive.
My hat is off to these seven people who got beyond their fears and were doing remarkable things.
I got up this morning, turned on the computer, and visited Dave's site and learned of yet another national tragedy. I have nothing to add, but Dave's doing a great job of pointing to all the relevant stuff.
On the other hand, WebWord says "Scoble is being brave." Hmmm.
Alwin Hawkins is a nurse and says I'm wrong. Interesting points.