Do you need to remember? ABSOLUTELY.
Is it enough to just remember? OF COURSE NOT.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
– George Santayana
There were so many things that were done after each incident… so many things that should have been done *BEFORE* each incident… so many clues that were not recognized.
- Don’t have a pure oxygen environment inside a closed spacecraft.
- Don’t launch outside of previously-tested temperatures.
- Don’t let high-energy debris hit critical spacecraft structures.
- …and so many more.
That’s the beauty of 20/20 hindsight. It’s also the curse. The “what if’s?”
For Manned Spaceflight, those “what if’s?” need to become actionable. If you don’t learn from those harsh lessons, you will continue to encounter those “ultimate consequences“. If you continue to have “ultimate consequences”, eventually you will not be doing what you set out to do – whether by your doing, or by external forces taking you (and your organization) out of the loop.
We’ve been lucky, in that public opinion has been generally supportive of continuing the progress of spaceflight.
But the public is extremely fickle. Recent support for space has dwindled. I would even hazard a guess that most of the general public isn’t even aware that we’ve had a *permanent* presence in space for almost the last 20 years on ISS.
However — if the program were to have another crew loss, the laser-like focus of the critical media would most likely drive public opinion against continuation this time. So … besides the obvious potential loss of human life, the program just can’t afford to make the same mistakes.