On Jan. 16, shortly after Columbia lifted off, a piece of insulating foam on its external fuel tank came off and was believed to have struck the left wing of the shuttle. Leroy Cain, the lead flight director in Mission Control, assured reporters Friday that engineers had concluded that any damage to the wing was considered minor and posed no safety hazard.I found out about all of this while reading my blogrolls this morning and drinking my coffee. I was reading The American Mind, where there’s a lot more information and commentary about it. I posted a comment there about the Jan. 16 incident. As I said, I’m no rocket scientist, but if they could have turned around, aborted the mission, stopped the car, whatever, they should have done it. I’m not sure there was such a minimal amount of risk; it was part of the shuttle for crying out loud. It was on there for a reason. It’s not like, “Oops, the car antenna fell off.” So big deal, no radio for the ride home. I’d rather have had the astronauts alive, safe and home. But I guess I’ll have to settle for a group of engineers living with guilt for the rest of their lives. I guess I should wake up and smell the coffee I’m drinking. Money and power have always come before human life, I guess. Good morning, America.