|The crew of the Challenger|
At the time I was in third grade at Birch Grove Elementary in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Our teachers wheeled TVs into a classroom so we could watch the coverage. We may have been watching the whole launch, especially since a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, was on board, but what I remember most is the aftermath: stunned and distraught teachers and confused and distraught kids. As a space-loving nine-year-old, it was one of the saddest days I had experienced in my young life.
After the Challenger disaster a lot of people have wondered if space travel is worth the risk. Given the dangers and expenditures involved in human space flight, maybe we would be better off focusing on our problems here on Earth.
Others are more qualified to comment on the commercial and scientific benefits of space travel, but as a philosopher and science fiction fan it seems to me that another possible benefit involves the very idea of space travel.