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Jan 28 2014

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Challenger 28 years later

There’s plenty that will be said today on the anniversary of Challenger’s explosion.  I’ll write plenty about NASA in the days to come, but not today — I’ll leave that to others.  Instead, here are some thoughts that are completely different.

There’s plenty that will be said today on the Challenger explosion. It will all be essentially the same.  Here are some thoughts that are completely different.

I was a youngster (sophomore) at the US Naval Academy.  Youngsters at USNA aren’t allowed into the wardroom (the TV lounge), but as I arrived back at my company area (my dorm floor) I noticed everyone,, including plebes (freshmen), ducking into the wardroom and then quickly leaving.  When I walked in, there was what looked like a picture of fireworks on the TV screen, and it was only after a moment or two that I realized at what I was looking.  I walked out without a word and went on with my day.

Pearl Harbor, JFK assassination, Challenger, and 9/11 are supposed to be the milestones around which everyone “remembers what they were doing when…” — the implication being that the news was so horrible and riveting that everyone stopped what they were doing and stayed glued to the radio/TV.  While I remember the exact moment that I learned about Challenger, my reaction to it was different.

Certainly different than my 9/11 reaction (save that post for another day).

Maybe it’s because, though I was allowed in the wardroom to see what was going on, I was shooed out just as quickly by the firsties (seniors) who owned the TV privilege.  I had to get on with the rest of my day — I had no choice, couldn’t be glued to the TV to watch what the news would say next.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an astronaut.  Maybe my reaction was because I knew what the risks of space travel was, and while death — sudden, tragic, on-live-broadcast-TV-for-all-to-see death especially — is terrible, it is a risk that to this day I would take to become an astronaut.

Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Greg Jarvis, and yes, even Christa McAuliffe died doing what they’d dreamed of doing.  Would that we could all go out that way.    <O

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/01/28/challenger-28-years-later/

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