Today,  Day of Remembrance (the final Thursday of January) commemorates the lives of astronauts who have perished in pursuit of human presence in space.  While most remember the Challenger (Jan. 28th, 1986) and Columbia (Feb 1st, 2003) disasters, fewer are probably aware of the Apollo 1 fire that killed Gus Grisson, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.  Still fewer are aware of the numerous Cosmonauts and Russian scientists that have perished.   And while Yuri Gagarin is the first man to survive spaceflight, how many Phantom Cosmonauts may have been lost, there existence hidden by the Soviet Union.

Spaceflight is inherently dangerous and will be for the foreseeable future.  Its continued pursuit is necessary for the advancement of mankind and human culture.  Robots can take pictures and collect samples but only a human can poetically describe a orbital or lunar sunrise.  In the future, manned spaceflight may be necessary for  mankind’s survival once the Earth’s resources have been used up or polluted.  IF in 5 Billion years we are still living on Earth, at that point we will have no choice but to leave the solar system in search of a new home as the Sun expands to a Red Giant and it engulfs the Earth.