There is a wonderful site called Despair.com. 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.