On January 28th, 1986, in schools across the nation, boxy cathode ray TVs were wheeled into classrooms on tall, wobbly carts and children scrambled for the best seat on the rug.
The space shuttle Challenger was set to launch carrying seven crew members, including New Hampshire high school teacher and mother of two, Christa McAuliffe.
Not more than a minute after launch, just ten miles above earth, the Challenger exploded before the eyes of a nation, killing everyone on board. It remains one of the worst accidents of the NASA space program.
Many of us have clear memories of that day – of the initial excitement and of the eery, horrified silence that followed.
We remember hearing a voice from mission control say, “Obviously a major malfunction.”
We remember our teachers walking across the room to switch off the TV, holding back tears, trying to protect us from whatever might happen next.
Seventeen years after the Challenger explosion, in 2003, space shuttle Columbia exploded upon reentering earth’s atmosphere, also killing seven crew members.
In the years since, the NASA space program has been driven by private firms like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
It’s with deep respect and admiration for the risk-takers, the adventurers, the envelope-pushers among us that we remember the Challenger crew of seven.
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