Space Shuttle Challenger

450_Challenger51Lcrew

It was twenty-two years ago today that the Space Shuttle Challenger was launched for the last time. It exploded less than two minutes into the flight. The Texas Space Grant Consortium has a rundown on what happened that day, with an explanation on what went wrong. Link -via Fark

Aboard were commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialist Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, and teacher-in-space Sharon Christa McAuliffe. You’ll find more on each crew member at NASA. Link

If you are old enough to remember, tell us where you were when you heard the news that day.

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This is so odd, but the day before the challenger launched, I was chatting about the shuttle with my sister on the phone. I was 5 months pregnant with my second child and I said to my sister, "you know if I had children I would not go up in that thing, it could explode". I never did like the idea of the shuttle being strapped to a gas station like that. The next day I was home playing with my young son and the phone rang. It was my sister saying, "the shuttle exploded". I guess I am not a risk taker and the shuttle seemed to dangerous to me, especially if you have little ones to care for. I could not have left my kids to go up in that thing, as my children always came first to me. It is like a premonition or something on my part. Scary.
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I was in Grade 12 and was asleep after writing a hefty mid-term English exam. I remember trying to get my mind around the events, thinking I was making some mistake. I kept hearing repeats of Scobee saying "GO at throttle-up", then that muted, terrible electronic sound of the ship disintegrating, and the launch announcer saying, "obviously a major malfunction."

A lot of thoughts came after. I'd been fascinated by the first few televised launches of 'Columbia' in '81 and 'Challenger' in '83. I even convinced my Grade 7 science teacher to let my class watch a launch in '82. He was impressed I suggested it. It was funny how the girl students were sardonic at first about a Shuttle launch, and then were thrilled when it lifted off ... wow, so space is like adventure, and not weird nerd stuff? Wow!

So I think with 'Challenger' my first reaction was, "oh no, the PROGRAM." I knew the astronauts knew the risks, accepted them, and loved their jobs. I felt bad for their families, but I also was sad knowing that the space program, all that wonderful stuff in the works, was on hold. Perhaps forever.

When NASA got back on track in '88, everyone was more cynical about the Shuttle and space flight. Things got better, but NASA stopped taking ANY risk, not just unacceptable ones. (I hear today's astronauts complain about that.) Now that the Shuttle fleet will be retired in 2010 because of the Columbia accident, I sometimes wonder if the stay-at-home mentality will finally take over.

We're too intelligent to stay on this planet forever. Here's to all the challengers out there ...
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I was four at the time, watching it with my mother--I was young enough that I didn't understand what had happened right away, but I was scared because it was the first time I'd ever seen my mother cry. When what had really happened finally sank into my four-year-old brain, I cried, too.
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I was in Mrs. T's eighth grade social studies class. We were watching the lauch on the classroom television.

First time we knew anything was wrong is when she said, to herself, "that wasn't supposed to happen."

You all know the rest.
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All of you in school make me feel old.I was a USAF aviator at the time flying a C-141 out of MAFB NJ

I was in the air on a local training sortie on the east coast at the time. Command post recalled us: had us immediately land.

I rushed home grabbed a bag, and back to an airplane diverting to provide transport for recovery/rescue/investigation I had no details at the time and never did see a news broadcast till later in the week.

I had looked into the requirements of being a shuttle crew member a while before that. It hit home.

But for the grace of God...
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