Jan. 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger Breaks Apart After Launch
On this day in 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after launch. Seven crew members were lost, including Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe.
After the Challenger explosion, President Ronald Reagan spoke to the public, especially to young children who had been watching the liftoff on television:
“…I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them…”
Read President Reagan’s full speech here.
Photo Credit: Photo from Jan. 9, 1986 - the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (NASA)
A few months ago, I signed up for a NASA “Spot the Station” alert (don’t ask, sometimes I drink and google). It’s a service that sends you an email when the International Space Station is visible in your area. The space station is only visible to the naked eye a few hours a day, (dawn and dusk) and last night I got an email that the it would be traveling over Tulsa at 6:29 AM this morning. So I set my alarm to catch a glimpse of the space station, woke up 15 minutes before it was supposed to go off and thought “fuck it, I will catch it on the next orbit”, but Matt’s alarm went off and I felt guilty. I dragged ass outside glanced to the northwest and I almost gave up after 40 seconds (it’s Monday), but then I saw it. It’s really nothing that spectacular to see, it’s a bright light that moves across the sky fairly slowly, but when you think about that light housing 6 people living 230 miles above the earth’s surface, it’s pretty insane.
Ironically, I saw this post about the 27th anniversary of the Challenger explosion today. I vaguely remember this happening as a kid, and I definitely don’t remember President Reagan’s speech, but I found this part especially touching:
The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them…”
Really glad I got out of bed this morning.