Skip to comments.This is the 24th anniversary of the Challenger disaster
Posted on 01/28/2010 12:50:25 PM PST by free1977free
Where were you on January 28th, 1986? Were you in a classroom watching the first teacher go into space? Do you remember how you felt when you saw the Challenger explode soon after it left the earth?
CNN reports that about 17% of Americans were watching when the disaster occurred. One hour later, 85% had heard the news. It is estimated that 48% of 9-13 year-olds were watching.
Teacher Christa Macauliffe was supposed to be the first teacher in space, but she never made it. She died in the explosion along with the six astronauts accompanying her.
Most of today's moms are old enough to remember this event. Today is a good day to share this historical story with your children. It's also a good way to share an emotional story from your own childhood.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.
We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.
I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."
There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
Ronald Reagan - January 28, 1986
by John Gillespie Magee, Junior (June 9, 1922 December 11, 1941)
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward Ive climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed ofwheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovring there,
Ive chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
Ive topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew
And, while with silent lifting mind Ive trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
I was at FT Polk, LA. I was in the company HQ building walking by the dayroom as folks gathered to watch the take-off on the TV.
About 30 of us spent most of the rest of the day glued to that same TV just incredulous at what had happened.
I was at home watching it on TV. I saw the explosion and waited for the Challenger to come out on the other side for what seemed like a long time. I finally realized that the booster rockets going off on strange trajectories and the debris meant that the Challenger had exploded.
It’s seems like it was only yesterday.
Thank God we had President Reagan.
If that had happened today, Obama would deny it occurred and go back to golfing. When pressed, he would then blame it on Bush.
I was in a hotel room with my mother and grandparents. We were getting ready to head over to my orthodontist to have my braces taken off and had the Challenger launch on.
Actually few, if any, of the crew died in the explosion. They were killed or knocked unconscious upon impact after minutes of free-fall, drowning thereafter if they weren’t already dead.
All because stupid bureaucrats decided to play with other people’s lives.
24 years later and nothing has changed.
I was working as a cop for the Welfare Department (now Dept Human Services) in Hamilton County Ohio.
I was at home. I worked B-shift at the time, so I was home during the daytime. My wife was home too and we were watching the launch. How awful it was when it Challenger exploded! I remember for a while the TV announcers were speculating about an escape pod. Of course, there was none.
RIP Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, you are not forgotten.
I remember it vividly. I was cleaning the sink in Masterchief Smith’s stateroom, in the Chief’s quarters of the CGC Polar Sea, docked in Seattle, when the announcement came over the 1MC that the shuttle had exploded on takeoff. We all gathered in the messdeck to watch the coverage on the TV. I remember standing there with the XO... we were all just staring slackjawed. Couldn’t believe it. It was a real punch in the gut.
Reagan postponed his SOTU address, instead giving those wonderful remarks that evening. Wow, do I ever miss that man all of a sudden.
I was at home living in Hawaii, and getting my kids ready for school.
Two historic events I watched after injuries from riding morotcycles. I was laying bed with a broken leg watching the Challenger launch 24 years ago today. I taken a turn too fast, lowsided and slid into a fence.
On September 11, 2001 I was being moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a regular room after coming out of a coma brought on by crashing my motorcycle into a car that ran a stop sign. A nurse turned on the TV in my room and I was being moved from the bed I was rolled out of the ICU on to the bed in the room when the second Tower was hit.
I saw it live looking out my office window 35 miles away. It was a clear day and the upper level winds were weak. The smoke and the exhaust cloud hung around for hours. You could actually see pieces falling from the cloud even at my distance from the explosion.
Saddest series of pictures I’ve ever seen is the one with Christa McCauliff’s family watching her go up. Her dad goes from proud parent to bewilderment and despair in a matter of seconds. He died of cancer a few years later and didn’t have the will to fight it. Her mother is still alive and goes around on lecture tours promoting space travel..
Where were you on January 28th, 1986?
Driving home from a college class. Flipped on the car radio and picked up a NASA press conference in mid stream. I could tell that obviously something very bad had happened but the guy giving the presser droned on in typical bureaucrat fashion and never really said exactly what. It was not till I reached home that my family told me.
I was standing on the sidewalk in the front yard with my mother. I still remember what jacket I had on that day, it was the heaviest jacket I had as a kid. I remember being confused at first as I saw the fireball and the solid rocket boosters diverge. I knew from previous launches that wasn’t supposed to happen, and my mom kept saying to herself, “where are they, why aren’t they getting out of there?” I realized something was wrong, but it wasn’t until my mom grabbed me and rushed me inside that I realized the astronaut’s lives were in mortal danger. She feared the shuttle might have been carrying toxic or nuclear material and might pose a danger to us since we only lived about 20 miles or less from the pad. We watched the replays on NASA TV and waited to make sure there were no evacuation announcements for the area near the space center.
A few days before this happened I actually had a dream about the shuttle exploding on the launch pad.
LOL... good grief. Hey, if you’re even in another motorcycle accident could you give us a heads-up that we should turn on the TV? ...or run for cover?
To this day I still have nightmares of shuttles exploding on launch or crashing on landing, but it was much worse when I was younger shortly after the event.
There were only about 10 people watching in the whole school, the best students I think. I was an awesome student because I was repeating the grade.
But I digress.
Where was I? I had just gotten out of the dentist where I had had a root canal done and heard the news on the car radio. I rushed home and told my husband to turn on the news and we watched in horror as they played the footage over and over again,
I distinctly remember being incredulous at the media’s continued insistence that the astronauts had died instantly.
Very moving speech by President Reagan. Written, I believe, by Peggy Noonan.
I hope you stopped riding motorcycles before you lost a leg, or two.
I was in JSC Building 30 checking tapes out of the SPF to do the next Recon build. I rolled my shopping cart full of tapes into the MCC PCZ and over to the M&O console. No one was saying a word. I had to go around the console to see what was on the video monitor.
Eating lunch in the high school cafeteria. Kid across from me was listening to a radio, got a funny look, and told me what happened. I grabbed the radio and heard “...Christa McAuliffe is dead.” I considered jumping on a table and announcing the news to the room, but figured most would either be too confused or apathetic.
I was in a meeting with our department execs when someone came in and told us what happened. We brought a TV into the room and sat there and watch stunned for I don’t know how long. We dropped the meeting and finally returned to our offices to ponder the magnitude of what we had just witnessed.
OH...I remember clearly....I was sitting in my car prior to going in to teach a college class.....I had to go in there and inform the waiting students of what had just happened.....
I remember when a recitation of that poem, accompanied by inspiring video of a jet taking off into a beautiful blue sky, was the daily sign-off for a local station. Now that I’m older, I can never stay up late enough to know if it’s still being used. :-)
I was so nuts about space my mom let me stay home from kindergarten to watch the launch. I vividly remember saying to my mom, “They’re alright, aren’t they. They got parachutes.”
Poor woman. Lots of unintentional irony there, considering her daughter's life was thrown away promoting that very thing.
I was in the USAF at Squadron Officer’s School in Montgomery, Alabama. We were between lectures and milling around in the hallway outside the auditorium when the rumor raced through the crowd. The next lecturer gave us the formal announcement of the disaster.
BTW, my husband is an engineer. The minute he heard that the fuel tanks had O rings as seals he said that that would have been the cause of the leak and the explosian. It was weeks before NASA agreed that that was the case. Of course it was exacerbated by the cold weather that morning. I think that it is a scandal that they made the engineers and the company that produced the fuel tanks the scape goat.
The engineer in charge advised against the launch because of the cold weather, but PR types at NASA over-rode his recommendation because they were embarrassed that the launch had been scrubbed several times that week already.
The managers overode the engineers who knew the SRB “O” rings would probably fail in 24 degree temperature. I wonder if they paid any consequence for overiding the engineers. There was a video of the crew compartment coming out of the gas cloud virtually intact and rumors had it the crew survived till impact. A sad day indeed. Thank God we had President Reagan then rather than the total joke we have now. God help us.
I was in a primary school with TVs turned on all over because of Christa. They were turned off pretty fast.
Here is a song that mentions them.
President and Nancy Reagan and families of the "Challenger" victims at the memorial service for the space shuttle crew in Houston, Texas. January.31 1986.
I was arriving at C-0 Launch Control Facility to receive the last part of my Alternate Command Post crew training to upgrade to ACP/SCP crew.
A light snow was falling and I got out of the Suburban and walked into the Support Building. I stood by the Security Control Center door and saw the TV in the lounge and the pictures were of the pieces falling into the ocean.
The facility manager told me the shuttle had just blown up. There was dead silence in that support building.
Was working at Bendix at the time and because we were part of STS, we watched all launches and landings.
I will never forget that image. Never. God bless them all.
If you look carefully at President Reagan’s speech above, you’ll see lots of references to ‘we’ and ‘the American people’, things you’d never see in an Obama speech.
Lord, I really miss Reagan.
I was working in a downtown office. No TV or radio. A coworker told me what happened. I didn’t cry until I saw the pictures that night. Such a shock.
Those of us in the group could see my sun porch television set through sliding glass doors.
We couldn't see the lift-off this time for some reason....and a neighbor suddenly remarked on the somewhat unusual scenes appearing on the TV. Something didn't seem to be right, he said.
Then the TV showed the painfully-strained visages of the McAuliffe parents and other spectators....their anxious eyes all turned skyward as if they were searching for something they didn't want to see.
To make a long story short, we went inside and gathered around the TV. We shortly learned the bad news. We went outside again and looked skyward. Dark contrails and wisps of smoky puffiness were slowly falling toward earth......starkly marring the clear sunny blue sky of a perfect Florida day.
We must have watched these aftermaths of disaster heading earthward for at least a half hour. The debris and smoke clusters definitely must have been very far up because they took so long to come down.
Our group of neighbors then gloomily disbanded and we all went into our homes to watch TV.....each to deal in our own ways with the tragedy which had horribly played out almost over our heads.
I was just interviewed for a job with one of the companies that supported NASA on the Challenger mission, started work there on Feb 3rd, 1986 and I am still working for them today. I actually just met Scott Parazynski, a former astronaut and current Chairman for the Challenger Center for Space Science Education today, we had lunch. Nice guy, great sense of humor.
One of Reagan’s best speeches! That man could bring tears to your eyes...and did, many times. Commanding, soft spoken, authoritative. There’s been no one like him since. W would’ve done a nice speech I’m sure.
I miss him more than I have the words to describe.
Challenger tribute with John Denver music, very moving
Ironic considering how Denver himself later died
I was at CENTCOM HQ in Tampa, heard the news in the watch center, went out into the parking lot and saw the horrible twisted contrails in the east
I was a new hire in a corporate orientation class. Someone in the hall stuck his head through the door and announced the disaster. I had a Sony Watchman TV in my briefcase. 30 people crowded around for an hour watching that tiny screen.
Our company was in the field that day. I remember our squad preparing some fighting positions when our platoon sergeant came by to check on our progress. After a few minutes, he turned to leave to when he said, “Yeah, somebody over in the TOC just said that the shuttle blew up. That’s all I know about it.” Learned in the evening that it blew up just after launch. Didn’t learn any more or see any footage till we got out of the field a few days later.
I was working that day after having both legs crushed in an accident at my brother-in-law’s house helping him wire the house. The alarm installer needed to get behind some 12’ by 4’ sheetrock lain against a wall and ‘we’ pulled it back enough for the guy to get to the box to run the wire. Only my BIL pulled too hard and the 20 sheets of sheetrock pushed me over to the floor and crushed my legs.......just about the worst day I ever had...I still have cringes and shooting pains in one ankle because of it....Think about what 20 sheets of 12’X 4’ X 1/2” sheetrock weigh....I can tell you what it feels like....