I was watching the landing live today. We watch all the launches and landings at the Great Lakes Science Center where I work.

On January 16th I got to get in front of 200 kids and do a speech about shuttles, science and gravity in front of the live launch It was pretty much a "make this up as we go along" thing. The kids were so excited. They did a countdown and a huge cheer when the shuttle launched. They were third - fourth graders, which was the age I was when the Challenger exploded.

And i thought that they wouldn't have to share that same sadness.

The problem now is the same as the problem 17 years ago this week and 36 years ago this week: not only a loss of life but a loss of faith.

Faith in science and faith in ourselves.

The Challenger accident put a moratorium on launches for 2 and a half years. They have already delayed the March 1st launch of ISS parts till this summer, and they may bring down the current residents. It could be a delay in a wonderful time of science and discovery. Even worse then that, it takes away a large part of NASA's already-dwindling support from the government and the people. So instead of getting reports on how NASA is sorely under-funded we have to be assured that it was not a terrorist attack. We are turning into a nation of war and ignoring our once unrelentingly curious nature.

I mourn for the astronauts lost today. I feel for their families. I am saddened by the loss of a historic vessel. I also mourn for yet another blow to the spirit of science and discovery.