Years of budgetary constraints and compromises have all but destroyed NASA’s ability to deliver on the grand visions of yesteryear. Sadly, I think that the best outcome of this tragedy would be to acknowledge that the shuttles are unsafe at any speed. Perhaps the national embarrassment is just what the U.S. government needs to get over this period of willful neglect of the space program.

Rob Foster
Ontario, Canada

I wonder why, given the history of ceramic-tile failure, no backup procedures were developed. The orbit didn’t allow for a rendezvous with the space station, nor was Columbia equipped to dock there. Once the launch problem was detected, it would have been nice to have had that option.

Russ Agreen
Denton, Md.