Dyana Dafova: Bulgaria Must be Proud Its Music Flew Aboard Columbia
Dyana Dafova answered questions of Milena Hristova, Editor of The News and novinite.com
Q: What was your first reaction to the news about the tragedy aboard Columbia space shuttle?
A: I was shocked to hear that. The tragedy comes after a long period during which no such terrible accidents happened. When I travelled to Florida to watch a Columbia launch four years ago I had the chance to see for myself impeccable organization, incredible security measures and precision there. That's why the terrible news came as a great shock to me.
Q: Did you know personally the members of the team?
A: I met with members of the shuttle's technical team. When NASA invited me to watch the Columbia launch from John F. Kennedy Space Center in 1998 they were making a study of the effects of weightlessness on different types of animals. Following the launch a big press conference was organized, which I attended as an official guest.
Q: What does it feel like to watch the launch of a shuttle?
A: Any word would be too weak to describe man's feelings at such a moment. Though words fail me, what I can say is "grand". I was allowed to watch the launch from only five miles away from the site. The incredibly powerful sound and vibrations are the first thing that strike you as the whole earth start to shake. You lose sight of the shuttle only several minutes after it takes off the ground, but for less than a second you feel part of the universe.
I remember talking to one of our hosts, General John Martin. He said he had been present at many shuttles' takeoffs but the excitement is always the same.
Q: What made you send a copy of your CD to NASA? Why do you think it was selected?
A: The song spreads over space beyond human comprehension. Its themes are addressed to space itself and all cosmic energies. The song was from my first compact disk "Sounds of the Earth". The link between the themes of "Sounds of the Earth" and the song Ahadiyak (which translates as "cosmos" in Sanskrit) seemed very relevant to the occasion. I was in the United States at that time and the CD was meant as a gesture, a present. Shortly afterwards I was invited as an official guest. Only two weeks later Columbia shuttle was launched.
Q: Can we take solace in the cause the astronauts died for?
A: Yes, of course. My meetings with some of the astronauts and Steve MacLean, a Canadian senior astronaut who trains them, gave me an insight into the hardships and training they have to undergo. The skills and knowledge they acquire are incredible. Thousands of people apply for this position and it is an honour to be chosen for the next flight. For me personally these are true heroes, not only because they are perfect in every respect, but also because I have always respected people who want to see beyond the obvious and visible. These are people with open hearts and minds, who sacrifice their lives in the name of progress.
Shock and grief at the disaster has been expressed around the world. As we mourn the deaths of the shuttle's seven astronauts however, we also pay tribute to their courage and heroic deed. I am going to send a copy of "Sound of the Earth" to each of the seven families of the dead astronauts, an initiative in which the US Embassy vowed full cooperation. Bulgaria must be proud that its music flew aboard Columbia space shuttle.
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