Location: Santa Ana, California, United States

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics and an admitted diet fanatic. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of two interactive workbooks, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual and Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, she also publishes a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge and various weight loss mini-courses. She can be reached at,, or

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Can Space Ever Be Safe?

Exploration has never been an undemanding endeavor.

Look at the pioneers of the New World: Magellan killed in the Pacific, daGama dying on the way to India, and Cook bludgeoned to death in Hawaii. Africa was opened to Western Civilization by men who unhesitatingly walked into dark jungles and never returned. Thousands of ordinary people headed westward in wagon trains, hundreds of them never seeing the California of their dreams.

We continue to put pressure on NASA to make the space program safe. It is never going to be a safe venture, no matter how careful the calculations and how obsessive the system checks. Space is a dangerous place because we don't naturally belong there. Just as venturing into the oceans requires equipment to allow us to survive, so the vacuum outside the earth's atmosphere will destroy our little carbon cycle bodies without extensive and sophisticated life support systems.

What drives the few who dare its challenges? They seem to bear little resemblance to the loners, oddballs, and starry-eyed visionaries who dared sail west with little more than a hunger for glory, and more than a little greed in their hearts. The new frontiersmen (and women) are engineers, pilots, scientists, slow and steady in their ways, sober and responsible citizens, working within a team, painstakingly trained for every probable scenario.

Somewhere in their inner mind, they hear the same call as their forerunners down the centuries who struck out into the unknown, fearless in the face of certain risk and unpredictable dangers. Their need is to know, to understand, to expand the human experience. They have considered the possibility that they may not return but have chosen to step forward anyway, a part of a long human chain constantly reaching for its own potential.

For years, NASA and the world were extraordinarily lucky in the avoidance of fatal accidents. Two shuttle disasters reinforced the odds of failure that we thought we had somehow beaten. Now there are seven human souls dependent on a 30 year old vehicle which may, or may not, be significantly damaged, to bring them safely home.

The world will hold its breath when they flare back into the atmosphere, ever fearful of another fireball exploding across the sky.

The most serene and confident watchers will be the seven on board. Unlike those of us forever shackled to the earth and mundane lives, they know they are a vital link in mankind's climb to the stars. The loss of any one link is a genuine tragedy but is also only a regrettable misstep on the continuing collective journey to invent our own future.


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6:16 PM  

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