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10:36 AM on 02/01/2013
It's not entirely a coincidence that all three human spaceflight disasters occurred in January. Cold weather contributed to the Challenger disaster, and the respective Presidents planned to give shout-outs to NASA during their State of the Union addresses at the end of January. 
NASA was under political pressure to avoid further delays to the Challenger launch and to not make a big deal about the possibility that insulating foam might have struck Columbia during launch. The Apollo 1 astronauts were immediately critical of the shoddy wiring inside the command module when the first test article was delivered, but NASA was pressured to push ahead.

The political interference with NASA hasn't stopped. What's happened is that the pressure to be reckless has been replaced by pressure to be overly cautious and to pursue dubious safety measures rationalized by even more ridiculous metrics for quantifying safety.

For example, Ares I was touted as the safest rocket ever, even though it had never been flown, nothing like it had ever been flown, neither of its engines had ever been fired, and simulations showed unexpected thrust oscillations which could shake the vehicle apart. An absurd claim was made that existing rockets with flawless flight histories were unsafe because of something called "blackout zones". 

Safety has been repurposed as a political tool to disqualify certain contract bids and all but require NASA to award contracts to particular corporations. They construct a set of "safety requirements" that, for example, force NASA to procure solid rocket motors from ATK, a political patron of Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL).
The Wolf's Den.
02:42 PM on 02/01/2013
Did you notice that the contracts that managed to get to NASA with pressure ended up being the same ones for the MIC? Who was licking it's chops to develope Rocket engines for the newer fighter planes that also failed badly. F15, F16.
Seriously, it's time.
03:28 PM on 02/01/2013
The tin foil hat indeed.

F22's and F35's are indeed failing a bit, but not in the engine department.
Seriously, it's time.
03:31 PM on 02/01/2013
Utah pork kills again.
The quarter of a degree of yaw from death STS-27 was in December.

Ares I. Truly a joke on a stick.
10:17 AM on 02/01/2013
I will never forget where I was when I heard of the Columbia accident 10 years ago on a Sat. morning in Walmart in the TV section, with tears in my eyes. I hope that time has helped all the families with their grief and that all are doing well. Long live the memories of husband, McCool, Anderson, Clark, Chawla, Brown & Ramon. I wish the best to NASA and our entire space program.
In the Conservatory, with a Pipe Wrench.
02:28 PM on 02/01/2013
Ya made me think... I really can't recall where I was for this.

1986 I can put myself in the chair I was sitting in. 9/11, too.

But this one... makes me think I'm becoming immune, and that would be a tragedy.
02:29 PM on 02/01/2013
Walmart Succks!
Teach, lead by example, example, exampl
04:53 PM on 02/01/2013
How relevant...