In Memory: Space Shuttle Challenger

NASA Mission 51-L Crew:

Francis R. Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist 1
Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist 2
Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist 3
Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist 1
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist 2 (Civilian - Teacher)

On January 28, 1986, on what was supposed to have been a mostly routine mission, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into launch, killing all 7 crew members on board. It remains to this day one of the most tragic moments in NASA history.

What made this mission unique was that Christa McAuliffe was to be the first school teacher to fly into outer space. As a result, many of us were watching, listening, or waiting for the announcement on the school PA system for the results. To this day many of us remember exactly where we were when the stunning news of the tragedy came around. I was in my freshman English class, barely paying attention to what the teacher had to say about some book or play or something we were supposed to read. Then the classroom door flung open, and one of the student administrative assistants stuck her head inside and blurts out those unforgettable words: "The space shuttle just exploded!".

None of us believed it at first, figuring she was just being a supreme jackass and making a joke of it all, but the teacher stopped the lecture and rolled out the TV/VCR cart. She was just about done setting up when the PA system kicked in, and the announcement was made that the shuttle had in fact exploded over the Atlantic. The stunned silence was perhaps the most surreal moment in my entire life. The television footage of it was nothing short of numbing.

After the initial shock wore off and there was time to sort things out, they found the cause. A simple rubber o-ring seal like you'd find in a lot of normal every day things. Only bigger. It failed, probably aggravated some by the cold weather on launch day. That failure led to the complete collapse of the solid rocket booster, which then exploded. Amazing really that something so mundane could lead to such a disaster.

I'll spare you all the rest of the sick and vile crap people made up as jokes later on. There was no excuse for any of it.

On this day, 21 years later, please take 73 seconds of your time for a moment of silence in memory of those who gave their lives to further our pursuit of knowledge. They died doing what they loved.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Jan 28, 2007 11:06 am by Samson in: , | 0 comment(s) [Closed]
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