Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger Disaster...25 years later

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Disaster that happened 73 seconds after liftoff and just over an hour from my home.  On a clear cool Florida morning at the Kennedy Space Center off the Cape Canaveral coast, history was about to be made.  It is estimated that over half of America's students were tuned in as the first school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, was being sent into space with 6 seasoned astronauts.  She was a social studies teacher from Concord, N.H. with a husband and children.  She had beat out over 11,000 other adventurous teachers for the opportunity to soar into space for a once in a lifetime experience.  With her husband and children and millions of Americans watching, the unexpected happened.  Just after takeoff, the Challenger blew up in the sky sending metal and bodies into the Atlantic ocean several miles off shore.  

My memories are still very clear of that January morning.  I was working in a dental office and  had headed outside with a couple of coworkers to search the eastern sky where I had watched so many space shuttles blast off.  There is a thrill in seeing the long white line of smoke that trails that shiny silver dot in the sky and then watching for the booster to drop from the sky.  Space shuttle flights had become fairly routine but on that morning, our eyes were opened to the dangers of space travel that nobody likes to talk about and the fragility of life.  5...4...3...2...1...blastoff...The white line began to form in the sky and almost immediately, it was like a fireworks display that had gone bad.  We stood in amazement starring at the sky hoping somehow what unfolded before our eyes was actually not really happening.  Unfortunately, America lost seven lives that day and impacted millions more.  This was not supposed to happen.  This shuttle was different as it was carrying a young hometown Mother and school teacher who's mantra in her classroom might as well  had been "reach for the stars".  It left our country in a state of shock and disbelief that a space shuttle carrying seven vibrant Americans could actually explode in front of millions of people.   The disaster was contributed to design flaws in the O rings on the rocket.

The image of that disaster will forever be in my mind.  I pray this morning for the families of the victims that have had to somehow move on without their loved ones. 

The Challenger explosion
The crew

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