The Challenger Disaster- 30 years ago today

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January 28, 2016 by JImbo

This was the 9-11 moment for my generation as kids. I was 10 years old sitting in a classroom watching the Challenger space shuttle take off live on television. It was unprecedented to get out of class to watch TV!

But, the lead up to the flight had been huge as a school teacher had won a contest to be on the crew. So, our teachers like teachers across the country had made this the event of the year for all the kids to watch.

All throughout the school, every classroom was wired specially to pipe in CNN so that every student in every classroom in the whole district would be be watching it live as it happened. Christa Mcauliffe was to be our hero.

When the space shuttle blew up one minute into launch, everyone just sat there in silence. We didn’t know exactly what had happened. We were ten. We didn’t know if it was part of the whole process or not. We had been told that there was a little explosion as the boosters came off the rocket and to be ready for it.

But this… this didn’t seem right. We looked around at each other. We looked at our teachers. Most of them were gone.

The few still there were either weeping quietly or shaking their heads sadly. Something terrible had happened.

 

The reaction on the ground as the astrounauts’ parents see the explosion

 

President Reagan speaks to America

 

And then… what I ALSO remember quite clearly is that the teachers were much more freaked out about it than we were. We just wanted to launch another shuttle. It took YEARS for NASA to do that. It was frustrating.

I wonder if today we would EVER go back into space. That was just the beginning of the “zero defect” culture we have today and we grew up with lead in the water greater than Flint Michigan has. We didn’t have airbags in cars. We didn’t wear helmets on our bikes.

Would we even have THOUGHT of going to space in the first place today?

 

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