Challenger -- Do You Remember?

NASA recalls darkest moments...

The space shuttle Challenger STS-51L spaceflight ended in tragedy on Jan. 28, 1986, 73 seconds after liftoff. Seven astronauts died that day, when the Challenger space shuttle was destroyed.

It was NASA's first in-flight calamity, and it dealt an especially severe blow to the millions of teachers and students watching on TV to see Christa McAuliffe, a civilian high school teacher from New Hampshire, become NASA's first Teacher in Space.

Today is the 25 year anniversary of that fateful day.

The loss of Challenger was later attributed to a failed seal on one of the space shuttle's solid rocket boosters. An investigation board concluded that cold weather prevented a rubber O-ring from maintaining its seal, allowing hot gas to leak and damage the shuttle's external fuel tank and the hardware attaching the booster to the vehicle. The right solid rocket booster separated from the shuttle, and the fuel tank broke apart, causing the orbiter to be torn apart by aerodynamic stresses.

"The problem was a design flaw, complicated by the weather situation which was unrecognized at the time by the appropriate managers," Hale said. "We wished that we had the foresight to stand up collectively and say, 'Look, it's too cold a day to launch, we just ought to wait for a warmer day.' In retrospect it seems so simple; at the time, it just didn't happen."

Veteran shuttle astronaut Ron Garan, who is slated to fly to the International Space Station in March aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, said the anniversaries of Challenger and the other accidents highlight the lessons learned from those events. "It's a time to reflect and it's a time to remember those people who have sacrificed to get us where we are," Garan told SPACE.com. "A lot of the lessons learned in this business are written in blood, and if we don't learn from them, those people died in vain."
So where were you on that day? Were you watching from a classroom like many students?



Emma Lai said...

I was watching with my fourth grade class. It was horrible. We didn't really understand what was happening. Then when we did, the loss was amplified by the fact one of our classmates knew astronaut Ron McNair. I don't recall the details of whether they were related or if he was just family friends, but I remember her bursting into tears.

Amber Skyze said...

I watched in my high school. They rolled a television in for us to see it. What a horrifying day.

Melisse Aires said...

I taught in a preschool at that time that had a huge great room. Usually we split the classes up to their own rooms, but after hearing about the Challenger we brought all the kids together with toys and turned on the television, angled so the kids couldn't watch. We kept our eyes on it all day. It was so sad. My boy friend's best friend was so into the Challenger, knew everything about it, studied what he could--poor guy was devastated.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I know I was watching but have no idea where. But I do remember it was a terrible terrible day. I was so shocked. Those poor astronauts.


Maria Zannini said...

Gosh, I remember those images so vividly. 36 years ago, my husband studied space science at uni to become an astronaut--until life changed his direction. But I could always rely on him to give me a better understanding of what happened that day.

We were talking about it today and he mentioned that for the first time they released previously classified video of the Challenger's descent.

25 years ago, despite news to the contrary, he insisted that until the g-forces knocked them out, those poor people were conscious all the way down.

Today on the news, it was verified.

Their sacrifice is not forgotten.

Christina Phillips said...

OMG. It doesn't seem like 25 years ago. It was truly horrific.

Shelley Munro said...

I remember watching it on the news. It doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It was certainly a very sad day.

Debs Carr said...

I don't know where I was on that day, but my ex-brother in law was in Florida (I believe) and watched it. He said one minute there was exhiliarating excitement and the next abject horror. I do remember seeing it on the news and can't believe it was 25 years ago!

Kaye Manro said...

Such a great bunch of thoughts here. Something this terrible affects us all for a very long time.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and sharing.

Linda Banche said...

Sad, all around. Christa McAuliffe, who died on the Challenger, was from my town. My local branch of the library is named for her.

Suzanne Jones said...

That was a very sad day. I can't believe it was 25 years ago.