This past Saturday evening Coast to Coast held an unprecedented 9 hour program devoted to looking at the crash of the space shuttle Columbia which had occurred that morning. George Noory hosted the first half of the show, followed by Barbara Simpson in her regular time slot.
"The only thing we can be thankful for is they got to fulfill their dreams," Richard C. Hoagland said of the seven astronauts who died in the accident. Hoagland offered his insights in both halves of the marathon. He was joined by his colleague Mike Bara in the latter part of the show, who stated that he thought the Shuttle program has been phenomenally successful, with a good safety record over its more than twenty year history. Phil Plait, nicknamed "The Bad Astronomer," who has served to dispel myths about outer space, praised the Shuttle missions for their successful launching of such astronomical satellites as the Chandra Observatory.
"It had to be in my eyes, something catastrophic in the structure...well beyond anything they could to do recover," Colonel Blaine Hammond, a Shuttle astronaut in the 1980's told George. An astronaut from the 1960's, Ken Johnston, said he believes the program "absolutely has to continue. The basic nature of human beings is to explore."
As George handed the reins over to Barbara at 10pm PST, it was a classic Coast moment hearing the two of them on together. Prof. Fred Ebert discussed the computer systems of the Shuttle with Barbara, as well as some of NASA's technical choices. He was followed by writer/lecturer James Chiles who offered commentary on safety systems. Rounding out the program was Dr. David Livingston, an advocate for outer space commerce. "Space is a powerfully transformative place," he said, "and we need to be there for a lot of reasons."