28 January 2016

On This Day: Challenger explodes

Challenger exploded as nation watched.
Wikipedia Photo
It was 1986 – my junior year at Octorara High School. It must have been a snow day because everyone was home. It was still too early for the noon news normally but there was a special broadcast because of the space shuttle Challenger. To be honest I was not really that into the space program but – tot eh rest of the world – it was a big deal because this would be the first time a US civilian would be aboard.

New Hampshire high school teacher Christa McAuliffe won a competition that afforded her the opportunity to be the first civilian in space. Everyone could appreciate that 28 January 1986 would be a historic day. No one could have realized how historic a day it would be.

The shuttle was supposed to have launched on the 23rd but, due to weather delays and then technical delays, it did finally lift off until the 28th. That morning, at 11:38 a.m., the nation watched as finally the Challenger lifted off. And then … just 73 seconds later … the nation watched in horrified disbelief as the shuttle exploded in a forked plume of smoke and fire.

In addition to McAuliffe, six others perished in the tragic accident. They were: Commander Francis Scobee; Pilot Michael Smith; Mission Specialists Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, and Judith Resniik; and Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis. McAuliffe had been the second Payload Specialist.

Share Your Thoughts:
Do you remember the Challenger Disaster?
Do you recall where you were or what you were doing at the time?

On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.                

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

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