The 27th is the anniversary of Apollo 1, and the 28th is the anniversary of the Challenger launch. Friday is the anniversary of the Columbia's failed landing. So I think today's a very good time to hail those who died in the pursuit of the final frontier.
Hail, then, to the Apollo 1 astronauts that died: Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee! Hail to the crew of the Challenger: Greg Jarvis, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuk, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, and especially Christa McAuliffe, whose presence on the flight brought unexpected lessons to so many classrooms that day. Hail to the men and women returning to earth on the Columbia: Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel B. Clark, and Ilan Ramon!
And while I'm at it, hail the Cosmonauts who died in the pursuit of the stars as well: Vladimir Komarov in Soyuz 1, and Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov on Soyuz 11. Their sacrifice is no less.
Science can be a very dangerous lover, and nowhere is that more vividly demonstrated than in the space program. And yet humanity as a whole pushes those boundaries of what can be done and what can be known, and it's important that we keep doing so. It's the only way we're ever going to have meaningful answers for why and how for everyone.
May your lives always be remembered! And may we, one day soon, reach again for the stars.
"You are just your intelligence." - Dr. Kalpana Chawla
"Reach for it. Push yourself as far as you can." - Christa McAuliffe
(Also, if you're a space nerd like me, you really need to check out the photoblog of Col. Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut currently living on the International Space Station.)