Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see where today is the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Since the shuttle explosion has become one of those “Where were you?” moments, I’ll go ahead and contribute my two cents: I was a junior in college at the time. As I recall I was walking to class among a stream of other students when rumor started circulating up and down the line that Something Had Happened. I don’t recall that I actually saw any video footage of the thing until some time later. (For you kids out there, media wasn’t anywhere near as ubiquitous back then as it is now. One actually had to seek out a stationary screen rayther than having half a dozen devices about one’s person blaring the news 24/7.)

Like everybody else, I was shocked and saddened at the time and later angered as word got out about the criminal negligence and stupidity that led up to the loss. But I also remember thinking, “Well, there are things that need to be fixed and reformed, but let’s just fix and reform them and get on with it.”

One of the few bright spots in these otherwise wretched times is the recent series of advancements made in private space exploration. Whatever else one might think of Elon Musk, SpaceX has made the field exciting and visionary again. So far, it seems they’ve managed one miracle after another. But sooner or later, something is going to go wrong and people will die. That is just a harsh reality. What I wonder now is whether, having become such a risk-adverse society, we will have enough collective fortitude left to be able to say “Get on with it” again when that happens.

(Full Disclosure: When I say exciting and visionary, I am speaking strictly from an armchair point of view. Ain’t no way Ol’ Robbo would ever go into space himself.)