Friday, February 1, 2013

A Little Attention to Detail

There is a wonderful site called  They sell a poster about mistakes.  It shows a sinking ship that looks like the Titanic sinking, with this caption:

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
The same can apply to disasters.  In too many disasters, some attention to detail could have prevented the disaster, or made it less deadly.

Sometimes we don't learn from disaster.  Sometimes we do.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the breaking apart and destruction of the space shuttle Columbia, during its reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.  A wing was damaged during liftoff.  A chunk of foam insulation broke off and hit a wing panel.

They didn't think it was fatally seriously.  They were wrong.  Seven astronauts never returned to Earth alive.

Now, the recovered debris sits silently as part of a special program at the Kennedy Space Center - its continuing mission, to educate.  

It educates those who are able to attend.  They find out why the accident happened, what we learned, and what changes were made.

The Columbia's original mission was an educational mission, so in a way, its destruction earned it a kind of immortality - and it continues to educate, 10 years later.  But its mission has changed - it now teaches the lessons of its own destruction:

-Don't assume something that looks minor is minor

-Always pay attention to detail

-Good can come from bad

The space program (more or less) has ended.  But the educational mission of the Kennedy Space Center, and the shuttle Columbia, continues.


  1. Alana, I'm visiting again from the UBC. What a superb article! I had no idea there was a site called "Despair", but what a classic quote. I think of that phenomenon when small children are killed, like in the New Town shootings. I wonder if those souls agreed to come in for a short time, to serve the cause of firearms management. Their passing certainly turned the tide. I celebrate them and you.

    1. Thank you. My husband has family 10 miles from Newtown. The city where I work had a mass shooting in 2009 which took 13 innocent lives and the life of the shoter - it has happened too many times, and finally we are talking about it - not always civilly - but we are finally confronting it.

  2. I always say trust your gut. It knows.

    1. You are right, the gut always knows. Sometimes it takes us too long to learn that lesson.

  3. Very thoughtful post. I had forgotten and we should never forget.

    1. I agree, we should never forget - there is always something to be learned from something gone bad.

  4. Alana, this is my first visit here. I am approaching 55 next month, so we're not that far apart in age! This is a somber, but essential post. I am also reminded of another shuttle disaster, the Challenger in 1986 - another one that claimed that lives of all the astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe,the teacher from Concord, NH. That one impacted me, because I was born and raised in NH, and was a young mother at the time. Thank you for the reminder that assuming anything is never a good idea! ~~ K'Lee


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