The Stars, Our Origin, Our Destiny
M 27, NGC 6853, The Dumbell Nebula: A Nova Remnant of a Dead Star
Courtesy of the European Southern Observatory
All life and the Earth itself is formed of atomic elements forged in the hearts of dying stars. In their cataclysmic death throes their very substance is sprayed out into the heavens to create new worlds, new life...us.
Now, after four and a half billion years this reformed stardust is reaching back out to the stars. The modern form of the ancient science of Astronomy shows us today how the cosmic processes that gave us and our world birth also reflect our own mortality. It is said that the essence of exploration is finding new and more horrible ways to die. This seems to be a bitter truth but, nothing truly worth while is easy or cheap. Dr. Martin Luther King, that redoubtable explorer of liberty, himself said there are indeed things worth dying for. He paid this ultimate price for a Dream as precious as the one we celebrate here. In fact, the latest group of our honored heroes died expressing Dr. King's Dream as well as reaching for the stars and their own dreams in their daunting yet gloriously spectacular deaths. Indeed, the multi-ethnic crew of the Challenger is Dr. King's Dream given one of its most perfect of forms to date.
So, with the knowledge that stardust must return to stardust, and that all men and women of all races are vivified stardust, we give our highest salute to the Heroes of the Dream who have flown beyond the Veil from whence no bold explorer returns, the Undiscovered Country of Shakespeare. Like the ancient sailing ballads of old these brave men and women inspire the Muse in others who must stay behind. All Honor to the Sailors of the Black Fleet and their Noble Ships!
April 23, 1967
June 30, 1971
January 28, 1986
They were the first to Join the Black Fleet, they will not be the last.
We also cannot forget the brave souls who have died testing these dangerous Ships of the Outer Dark. Things of steel and fire, they are also forged with blood.
Vonderenko dies in an Apollo 1 style flash fire in a ground based testing station facility in a 100% O2 atmosphere.
October 26, 1960
Marshall Mitrofan Nedelin and 90 others die when their R16 Booster being readied for the first Soviet Mars Probe Launch explodes. Nedelin pushing his new booster fueled with deadly Nitric Acid and Hydrazine in competition with Korolev's Kerosene/LOX burning R7 booster recklessly goes out to the pad to watch operations and stays on the pad when the launch fails. He refuses to allow workers to drain the dangerous hypergolic fuel and oxidizers while the vehicle is inspected. Not wishing to appear cowardly many engineers join Nedelin and the workers on the pad. The second stage engine suddenly fires and cuts into the top of the first stage's fuel tanks causing the explosion.
January 27, 1967
Virgil "Gus" Grissom
In a full dress rehearsal of the Apollo 1 launch, due in less than two weeks, all three astronauts die in a flash fire on board their new spacecraft which is using a 100% O2 atmosphere.
March 18, 1980
50 people died when a standard R-7 (Semyorka) carrying an unmanned, military reconnaissance Vostok 8A92M satellite exploded on the pad several minutes after it had failed to ignite when the launch signal had been given. A small inspection team had been ordered out onto the pad. After the Soviet collapse in 1990, the R-7, Semyorka continues to launch many C.I.S. (Commonwealth of Independent States) space missions. The C.I.S. was formed in December of 1991.
Q to Picard
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Last rev: August 30, 1999 --