Memories of the Challenger

This is one page of many, check out the intro at I Remember Challenger for others.

This page currently edited by: Dagwood. Past editor: Junior

I was in 7th grade in January of 1986. I was in Mr. Purcell's Geography class when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. After school and all night, my family watched the events unfold on the news. The words "Go at throttle up" will never be forgotten. For Christmas break that year, my family vacationed in Orlando. Part of the trip was a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. Challenger was supposed to launch when we were there, but due to cold weather, the launch was delayed. I have a picture of Challenger on the launch pad. It was the first time that 2 Space Shuttles were on launch pads 39 A & B at the same time. (Columbia)

From: Matthew Edwards

I was in 10th grade at Camden County High School (located just over the Fla-Ga border). The same cold front responsible for the accident was also freezing the pipes at my high school so we all had the day off. After a lazy morning at home I was putting in my brand new contact lenses when I heard my mother cry out in tears that the space shuttle had exploded. I ran into the family room to see (with one eye) the tragedy unfold. I just sat there and held my lens while it shriveled up and tears rolled down my face.

From: Eric W. Anderson

I wasn't really THERE when it happened because I was only about 4 months old, but my mom told me that she was in the car on her way somewhere, and she could see the explosion from where she was. She's always talking to me about it and when I think of the people who died I feel really sad that it had to happen. Even my mom still feels sad when she talks about. I think that was hard for everyone who remembers seeing it happen.

From: Amanda

I was in fifth grade at the time in Pennsylvania, and I distinctly remember that the class did all this extra work to understand about space, NASA, flights, etc. The class was in absolute shock as we looked at the TV and saw it replayed over and over again. It was definitely the "JFK" to the 80's children.

From: Diane

The Challenger explosion was my first memory. I was 2 or three, and I was in trouble for feeding my younger brother legos. My mom was yelling and me, and fishing the legos out of his mouth, while watching T.V. All of a sudden she stopped, and burst into tears. I was so worried I had done something that bad to make my mom cry. She explained it to me the best she could, but I'm sure my three-year-old mind didn't reall understand. Looking back, I think it's pretty strange it's something I still remember.

From: Bailey

I was in 11th grade back in my native Puerto Rico. That was a average day, like any other. That is, until the day was over and all the students were going home: the Principal (a nun, since it was a Catholic school) was standing at the gate and when she told us that the Challenger had exploded and all the astronauts died all the blood drained from my face. I remember crying that afternoon when I saw the video in the news. I shed more tears days later when the astronauts were given HEROES' burials. Scary thing is, a few weeks before the actual tragedy, I had a nightmare where I saw one of the shuttles taking off, and then, after losing power, crashing on the ground again, destroying Kennedy Space Center in the process.

From: Jose Gilberto Rivera

I remember the Challenger; I was in 4th grade at Walter Hall Elementary in Houston, Texas. We all stopped our normal duties and watched the lift off on the TV. When it happened, we all sat in silence. This was kinda of ironic for this to happen especially for our school as my soon to be 5th grade teacher was the wife of one of the astronauts. Needless to say, this was a big shock. Now years have gone by and I am married to someone who had a very similar expierence. He was going to be in high school with Christa McCauliffe as his teacher. So we will sit back from time to time and remember our very similar experiences. For us we, will never forget. We remember the Challenger.

From: erica

I was in 3rd grade when I heard about Challenger. I don't remember actually hearing about in the school, but I know a lot of the teachers did. My mom was going back to school herself to become a computer teacher (later she would teach full time in 3-8th grades). It didn't really hit me, I didn't know much was wrong until I got home and every channel: CBS, NBC, and ABC told news of the explosion. I still have the front section of our local paper the day after the explosion. Also, 10 years later, I saved the front page to the Akron-Beacon Journal for their tribute to Judy Resnick. I remember hearing of the Gulf War at a cousin's house, knowing my God-Father could be in those lines, plus I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard fo the Oklahoma City Bombing. These three events will always stay with me.

From: Andrew

I remember the Challenger explosion like it happened yesterday. I was in second grade (in math class, I believe) and the teacher let us watch the liftoff because of the historical significance of it (although we didn't know just how historically significant it would turn out to be). I had always dreamed of being an astronaut and I was horrified when the shuttle exploded. I also remember the rescue of Baby Jessica from the well and the '89 San Francisco Earthquake quite distinctly too.

From: Jason McDaniel

I was in the 8th grade when it happened. I lived in Hawaii and was getting ready for school when I heard about it on the radio. I ran to the TV and sat there in shock. It was supposed to be a happy day for me because it was my friend's birthday and we were taking pictures for band. Instead when I got to school it was all anybody talked about. My 2nd period English class went next door to watch the news about it. I remember being very sad because there were so many firsts with the Challenger. The fact that El Onizuka was from Hawaii and the first Asian American in space made it harder. I think I held on to the hope that maybe somebody survived because they hadn't found anyone yet but deep down I knew it was improbable.

From: Vicki Asato

I remember this very well. It was the first time my friend had ever been able to see the shuttle lift off. We were at lunch at a golf course, watching the tv of the lift off. He was so excited to see it take off. I had seen many lift off of all the space launches as I am a space follower. I remember him saying "WOW what a great sight." and then it happened. I was explaning it all to him when I saw it and said "OH MY GOD, The shuttle blew up". He looked at me in fear. We both said a prayer for them and continued to watch, we never did go back to work. I still pray for them and every other person who is in the shuttle program.

From: Ray

I did not know about it until 3 years later. My kindergarten teacher did not pass the news. I rarely watched the news, etc. However, 1986 was a pretty bad year for me and my folks. In August of that year, my dad totalled his new car which he had bought during the Xmas season.(the car slipped on and landed on the other side of I-90 around MA Turnpike or NY Thruway.) Luckily my parents and I survived. Then in sept. 3, my first day of first grade, my mom had a cooking accident which left her hands and feet burned. one of her index fingers still looks bad. there was worse to come. My 1st grade teacher decided to put me back 1 year. I'm just glad I'm not the only 19 year old college freshman in the world. 1986 was a cursed year, for all I care. When I think about the TWA explosion a decade later, I can think about the Challenger. In my fourth grade science book, there was an article about Ronnie McNair which was printed when he was alive. And someone wrote 1986 in the space where the year of death would have been, and I did not know why, until I recalled the Challenger explosion and guessed that he was one of the victims.

From: fletch

I was in 11th grade Prob&Stat class when the principal announced over the PA the words that I still remember verbatim today: "Attention students and teachers, I have a tragic announcement to make. A few moments ago, the space shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff. It is not known if there are any survivors, but it is highly unlikely anyone could have survived." I had completely forgotten that the Challenger was launching that day, and it took me several moments to remember the special signifigance of this flight. They did not cancel school, but they might as well have... every teacher canceled their lesson plans and each class sat quietly watching television the rest of the day. Ironically I had remakred to a friend two days earlier how amazing it was that there had never been a fatal space shuttle accident. I had a picture of the Challenger hanging in my room, I cried every time I looked at it and had to take it down. To this day I cannot watch anything about the Challenger without getting choked up. The only event that had even a remotely similar impact was when my 6th-grade teacher burst into the room with a look of shock and said "The president has been shot". But the Challenger was far more shocking.

From: ScooterJ

I was in the 10th grade skipping class when the Challenger exploded (everyone was in the main gym watching and I thought it would be cool to escape for a few hours) they sent the school home early that day and I missed the bus home. I was also skipping class watching G.I. Joe when the news about Chernobyl hit the air. Ture story, I never skipped class that year again.. Leondus Class of 88'

From: Leondus

How can I forget the Challenger disaster? I was 12 and in bed recovering from a broken back. I was hit by a car that November and had to spend 6 months in bed without walking. I was about 2 months into this ordeal when it happened. So unlike most kids, I was watching this live when it happened. By the time my tutor came over at 3:30, I've been watching the footage for a good 6 hours. It was all that was on TV and that is all I watched. What else is there to do in bed for 6 months?

From: The Wedge

The Challenger explosion is one of the most vivid memories of the 80's for me. I was in 8th grade, eating lunch. Many of us skipped watching the launch as "no big deal" and went to lunch a few minutes early. One of the teachers came in to the cafateria and said "Oh my god, the shuttle just exploded!". That was 13 years, 7 months ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. This is a great site, the most detail that I have seen sence the explosion. Good Job!

From: Scott

I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. I was in the 9th grade and in gym class, all of a sudden, one of the teachers burst in to the gym. She was hysterical. In between sobs she told us what had happened. Just about a minute later the principal came over the intercom and told us that the Challenger had exploded and there were probably no survivors. For the rest of the day, the entire school sat in the gym with a bunch of TVs all on the same channel watching the coverage. It was one of the worst disasters I had witnessed to this date. I still think about it and every time I watch a shuttle launch, I still picture it in my mind. I hope that when my children learn about history that this will be one major event that they can learn about and from. My prayers are still with the families of those brave souls.

From: Jodi

I was in my 7th grade reading class when my teacher told us what happened and then we watched it on TV, and then had a discussion about it in class. I was shocked and didn't know what to say. It was a sad and hollow feeling I had that day, and it still saddens me to this day

From: Dave

I was in third grade. Our principal came in the room and and made the announcement. The flags were immediately set at half mast and school was dismissed. I remember coming home and watching it on tv, over and over again... and I knew I should be sad, but I was happy to get out of school early. It took a while for me to understand the magnitude of the event.

From: Kerry

I was woken up by my mother on January 29th, two days after my 16th birthday, in our house in Melbourne, Australia with the news that the shuttle had exploded. At first I didn't believe her, but watching the morning news brought it all home. I had been living in the US in the early 80s when the first shuttle had been launched into space, and I felt the most appaling sense of personal loss, as well as loss for the entire world. Our goal of expanding human understanding and reaching for the stars had cost us dearly.

From: Andrew

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