Eyes to the Stars: Perspectives Part 2

This is a 2 part article, written by both authors of Registered Evil. As many things in our history, different people, were in different places with different perspectives. These are ours. -BS

Challenger: 25 years later, Still a Painful Memory.

January 28, 1989…

Seems like a long time ago…I remember it vividly though.

I was in 3rd grade at Emerson Elementary School, and our teacher took us all to the library to crowd around a tv strapped to rolling cart.  I was young, and the idea of a teacher going into space was a cool idea to me.

It was the world’s first high-tech catastrophe to unfold on live TV. Adding to the anguish was the young audience: School children everywhere tuned in that morning to watch the launch of the first schoolteacher and ordinary citizen bound for space, Christa McAuliffe.

She never made it.

McAuliffe and six others on board perished as the cameras rolled, victims of stiff O-ring seals and feeble bureaucratic decisions.

During this time in my personal life, I was a space nut.  My parents and I watched Star Trek, and I had my room decorated like something from a distant planet.  I had glowing stars on the roof, and had attempted to make the layout of them as acurate to the actual constellations as possible.

I had a map of the surface of the moon on my wall, and a small telescope that I looked through often.

When I first heard the news that we would be watching the launch, I was reeling with excitement.  I thought at the time that launching astronauts into space was the coolest thing you could do as a job, and the fact that a civilian was being permitted to tag along, mad my dream of going into space seem a bit more realistic than I had thought previously.

So there we all sat, crowded around the tv, all sitting indian style on the floor, the anticipation was too much to bear…

Then, as suddenly as it started, it ended…

I remember the silence….I remember feeling numb, I felt like at any moment my head would implode.  Rarely have I ever felt such disbelief as that moment.

The crew compartment shot out of the fireball, intact, and continued upward another three miles before plummeting. The free fall lasted more than two minutes. There was no parachute to slow the descent, no escape system whatsoever; NASA had skipped all that in shuttle development. Space travel was considered so ordinary, in fact, that the Challenger seven wore little more than blue coveralls and skimpy motorcycle-type helmets for takeoff.

I remember thinking, when I saw the crew compartment fly out, that maybe they were ok, and would land safely in the water.  I was shocked to find out that no parachute would be deployed….I still wonder why that was not part of the design.  It makes me mad.  They may have survived with something as simple as a piece of lightweight, cheap fabric.

Where were you?    Please comment.

To the crew that perished that day: I will never forget your faces…


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