I agree...this is a terrible tragedy and the loss of this crew is what we should be focusing on. They knew and accepted their risks, and hundreds of others would sign up to fly again tomorrow even knowing what happened today. I would never deny them that opportunity...I even envy their courage and commitment.
But I can't deny the fear of what this will do to our space program. Some experts had said this was likely...that the shuttle was just not appropriate given our current technology and lessons learned over the past 20 years...that it was too expensive to operate, too limited in capability, and too dangerous. They did start a next-generation shuttle, which would be a huge leap in all these issues, but it was abandoned when a critical component proved unworkable, and they had to start over from scratch. In fact, I'm not sure we even have an approved design for a next-gen shuttle right now. And yet now we need it more than ever, especially with the ISS and with private interest in space just showing some real first steps. And instead, for a time at least, we won't be able to use the shuttle at all.
I hope the President takes his vow that we'll stay in space to heart, and commits to fixing whatever problems NASA may have with the current shuttle and to bringing a better replacement online asap.
But all of that is months and years down the road, and our thoughts and prayers should remain with the families.