Saturday, January 03, 2009

On Risk

Keith Cowing (of NASA Watch and has some thoughts about the recently-released report on the breakup of space shuttle Columbia.

Accidents are things to be avoided. However, by the very nature of how we currently send humans into space and return them to Earth, there is a substantial amount of risk involved. Much of that risk has been identified and is manageable. But not all of it. Of course, when you hear this discussion, someone inevitably says that the only way to make these things risk free is not to do them.

Well, we have decided to do these risky things, now haven't we?

Inevitably, when the accidents happen, we need to work our way through them, pause and reflect on what happened, and then press ahead. To be certain there is never a good time for a bad thing to happen. But not to benefit from the information that can arise from studying an accident's cause only serves to remove value from the sacrifice that a crew has made.

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