Now, five years later, it is the 30th anniversary of the defining moment for an entire generation. For me, who grew up with the space program, it is a sad anniversary in so many ways.
On January 28, 1986 the U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded, on live TV, 73 seconds after its launch. All seven crew members, including a civilian teacher, were killed. Tragically, the explosion was caused by an O Ring failure - something so small caused something so big.
Today, for NASA, it is a Day of Remembrance - a day when NASA remembers all those who gave their lives for the cause of the exploration of space. A special website has been put up.
At one time, the space race was an extension of what we called the Cold War between the United States and the then-Soviet Union.
Now, the United States pays Russia to transport our astronauts to the International Space Station.
But some of the students of the civilian teacher who died in the Challenger disaster now are teachers themselves.
Would they have gone into teaching if they hadn't seen their teacher die, live on TV? I wonder.
And I wonder if our space program will ever truly take off again, as so many of us thought it would all those years ago.
As I said below, time flies when you are having fun (or not).
Here's my post from 2011.
Another 25 years ago Moment - Challenger
January 21, 1986: the death of my father. And, a week later, the explosion of the Challenger.
I wasn't a member of the generation which had this event as their "defining moment" but I can still remember exactly where I was. I was in an office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, that Tuesday, just having returned from burying my father out on Long Island. I was at work, when one of my co workers announced he had just spoken to one of our customers, and he relayed the news to us.
It was the first time I had felt anything in a week. Simply, I had been numb since getting that phone call that my father had passed away in a Brooklyn emergency room. This was the first thing I felt since that phone call.
The space program had meant so much to me growing up. I became a big fan of science fiction - for some years, in fact, it was all I read. So the shock penetrated through the numbness. Now I was really surrounded by death.
It is so hard to imagine that 25 years have passed since that day, and here we are, with the manned space program soon to end. 25 years later, and an astronaut by the name of Mark Kelly ponders whether he will fly in that last mission, because his wife lies in a rehab center, survivor of an attempted assassination.
Two 25 year commemorations in a week. And to think I was a teenager when we had the 25th anniversary of the end of World War II. Time flies when you are having fun (or not).