Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Challenger

On Friday, January 28, 2011, I wrote the blog post "Another 25 Years Ago Moment".

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

There are two events linked together in my mind and heart.

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).


  1. As one who was somewhat involved in the space program, i am dumbfounded how America has shied away from its involvement in this technological development conduit.
    And, this explosion was another reminder how callous cost cutting - to save literally pennies- can have disastrous results.

    1. As someone who had grown up reading science fiction, I never would have guessed the direction the space program had taken. Neither would have the majority of SF authors. Robert Heinlein (in "If This Goes On- written in 1940) predicted a lull in the space program, but it was due to a religious dictatorship taking over the United States. Hmmm...that could still happen.

  2. The Challenger explosion is another one of those moments that I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I'm not sure I fully understand why the space program has been pulled back so much.....

    1. I don't, either. Perhaps we as a country have lost our will.

  3. It was truly a sad moment. I remember reading about it in the newspapers and later following the story in the Time magazine. I can imagine how your father's passing and this must have been so shocking to you.

    1. It was not a happy time, Corinne. And, I can't understand what has happened to the U.S. space program in recent years, either.

  4. I was just recalling the anniversary myself. I was a freshman in high school at the time. A teacher wheeled a TV in, and we watched the coverage all period. I can't look at the footage any more, but I sure saw it that day.

  5. It grieves me America has lost her passion for space. China and the Pacific Rim countries have not lost their passion. Russia no longer has the funds to be passionate. Where will we be in another 25 years, I wonder.

  6. Enjoyed this thank you for sharing

  7. Oh my, sorry that was such a bad time for you. I remember that I was working at a magazine and my editor's secretary was listening to the coverage on the radio. She let out a scream when she heard the news. It was horrible.

  8. I was only two when this happened but I can only imagine how horrible and traumatizing this would have been for so many. I'm sorry about your father as well. What a week...

  9. Rest in peace those who lost there life on challenger
    Coffee is on

  10. It was a very sad day for the space program and like some of the other comments I wonder what the next 25 years will bring!

  11. it was such a sad day - I remember Florida made a memorial car tag and the highways were filled with cars with the tags - it's too easy to forget


Thank you for visiting! Your comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate each one. These comments are moderated, so they may not post for several hours. If you are spam, you will find your comments in my compost heap, where they will finally serve a good purpose.