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 2nd grade and I remember being in love with the shuttle, having dreams of space camp and hoping to some day visit space. This shattered that reality. I felt after this that I would never make it to space. I feel shock even to this day when I see the explosion. I miss what could have been if they had made it their and back. I have made it my goal in life to find a way to make it easier for us to go to space in a way that doesn't mean strapping your self to an explosive rocket and hoping that it doesn't explode. The sad thing about the whole incident is that the civilians of the world will have to wait even longer to get to space. I just hope that we don't wait to long or man may never get the chance to leave. Sir Jacob Shatterd Dreams.

From: Sir Jacob

I was in high school and it was lunch time. I even remember I was out in the lobby buying popcorn. The principal came over the speaker and told us the challenger had blown up. I started to cry and went to the library where they were watching. It made me especially sad because I had met Christie McAuliffe.

From: L.Treloar

I remember that tragic day. I was in the fourth grade and we all sat down to watch the launch. I remember thinking how weird that one of the rockets exploded and the other one started skidding off to the side. I had seen a shuttle lauched before but this was different. I was curious as to why the Challenger was going sideways instead of up with a big flame engulfing it. I got a strange feeling in my gut and I looked up at my teacher whose eyes were filled with tears, and I realized, the whole classroom realized too, that it wasn't part of a N.A.S.A. routine shuttle launch. It was an explosion. A mark in the sky as well as a scar in our minds. Never did I expect it to explode, even though as a kid you imagine those things as you watch and anticipate the launch, but never in a million years did I think it was really going to happen. Not us, not America, but it did. I remember that everyone was taken by surprise and it took a minute to absorb what had happened. All of the sudden, everyone and I mean even the classroom bully, burst into tears. That evening the skies were crimson at sunset. I think the earth felt our loss, and I think she was crying. Thank you for letting me get that experience off my chest.

From: Aaron Newman

I remember the Challenger disaster like it was yesterday. I was a sophmore in high school and I had a class down the hall from the library. I'd taken a break from class to go to the restroom and took a short cut thru the library. As I was walking thru the library I'd noticed the librarian had the TV on. It was an important event knowing this was marking the first time a teacher would be in space. As I was walking to the TV, moments before the explosion, I thought to myself, "Wow, this is exciting". Then the explosion happened...and I was stunned. It's like it was a dream. I went back to my class and announced to my teacher and classmates what had happened...of course, no one believed me so I'd said "Mrs. Peterson has the TV on in the library where I saw it happen, go look for yourself!" That day it seemed like time stood still. Tears and hugs were pretty much shared for the next 2 or so days...even the eyes of the guys were wet, mine too. It was like the death of a friend in such a horrific way. Very sad day, the Challenger Disaster is something I'll never forget.

From: Jay

I grew up in Concord, NH, McAuliffe's hometown. I was 15 when it happened. I remember the months leading up to the event -- we had parades for her, and it was hard to believe that one of our own from little Concord NH had been selected. I remember that it was a big deal when she made it to the final 10 teachers in the selection process! When the tragedy struck, the schools and the whole town simply fell silent, and remained so for about a week. I remember going down to the cafeteria shortly after the explosion, and lunch lines that were usually very long were empty -- nobody could eat. We didn't have school for a few days after because the press pool had taken over the high school. I remember going back to school and seeing every hallway lined floor to ceiling with sympathy cards and posters from schools all over the world.

From: Rick Wester

Fifteen years later I still remember clearly where I was and what I was doing the day Challenger exploded. I was in fourth grade at Amanda Moore Elementary School in Romeo Michigan and I was eating lunch in the cafeteria. A friend of mine who was in sixth grade had told me earlier in the day that his class was going to watch the launch, so when I saw him at lunch time I asked him how it went. He told me that the shuttle exploded, and I said "yeah right...really how did it go?" He looked me straight in the eye, and said "It exploded." He was not smiling, and I knew it wasn't a joke. I just remember going home that day, turning on the television, and seeing the image of challenger blow up on every station. I felt very bad for the seven on board, and I felt especially bad for Christa McAulife (sp?)and her family. This was a crew that we all felt we knew personally because of her. Never had a mission been so closely documented before this one, and it was all because a civilian was going to be on board. When it went up in flames, it was a tragedy of paramount proportions, and something I will never forget as long as I live.

From: Chris Williams

I was nine years old and in 4th grade. We had a substitute teacher and it happened right after lunchtime. My friend Steve lived across the street and had gone home for lunch. The teacher said,"Does anyone know?" and Steve said, "Yeah, it blew up..."I thought and hoped he was playing some evil joke. Then the newschannels began being played over the loudspeakers. I cried and cried, and I still cry today when I see it ov TV. It was so devastating, they were my heroes, and I wanted to be an astronaut. Well, Im all grown up now, and I am definately not an astronaut! It really changed my opinion of NASA. Even now, whenever there is a launch, I cringe. I don't think I could take it again... it was just too sad!

From: Heather Laflamme

Watching the shuttle take off got so routine I didn't even remember there was a launch. As I was tying my shoes to go to work, I turned the t.v. on as debris was falling from the sky. I remember hearing the announcer say "That might be the escape module..." as a large object parachuted down. It too me a while to realize what a horrible event I was watching. I was an astronomy major in college at the time so this hit very personally. I was and still am very sad and alway remember the event. Christa represented "me" the ordinary person. I used to think "What a lucky dog" watching her training, enjoying her lovely smile. Less than a month later, my wife gave birth to a little girl. Her name is Christa :)

From: Ed Garcia

I was in 8th Grade. In my civics class. We had a substitue that day. I had only lived in Florida for 3 months, and had yet to see a launch. Maybe the sub would let us step ouside and look north. On a clear day, such as it was, you could still see it, even from Ft. Lauderdale. But that didn't happen. Unaware of the exact moment it took off, class went on. That is when we all heard a lot of noise from the class next door. Science class, they were watching it on TV. The sub stepped over there to find out what the noise was about. 30 seconds later, he walked back in and said the the Space Shuttle had blown up. A minute later, the bell rang, and it was time for lunch. By the time I got in line, the stage of the Cafetorium had 4 TVs on it, showing the explosion over and over again. Nobody could eat. Nobody even wanted to be there. But we stayed throughout the rest of the school day, everybody talking about what they thought could have happened. Some kids even made jokes. I remember one such punk, walking out the door at the end of the day, muttering to himself "What goes boom in the afternoon? The Space Shuttle". I really felt like telling him off, but did not have it in me to do so. Not on that day. I just shook my head in disbelief and climbed aboard my school bus.

From: Brent

Like everyone else, I, of course, rememnber where I was when the Challenger exploded. At this time in my life, I had taken off -- what turned out to be -- a year from college in order to work in Fort Lauderdale. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life ... and, actually, I still don't. I was at work at the hotel (where I worked), when the Challenger exploded, and I remember hearing on the radio that it had crashed. I remember that I was very shocked that it had happened ... because I was completely comfortable with the technology of the time. To my mind, rocket crashes were a thing of the ancient past, not the modern world. Maybe that was just youth. I mean, if someone had come to me back then and asked me if I wanted to go on the space shuttle, I would have jumped at the chance. But, now, if I had the chance to go on the shuttle, I'd say "no thanks, I'm not going down in a ball of flames!" The infallibility of technology is an attitude I no longer possess ... a direct result of the Challenger crash. I went home that evening and watched the explosion over and over again. It was shocking. And, I remember President Reagan saying those beautiful words in his speech. It was only later that we all found out that the Reagan administration had pressured NASA to launch the shuttle -- against its judgement -- so Reagan could give a special speech about having a teacher in space. Nonetheless, most people only recall Reagan's phoney (but emotional) words after the Challenger disaster, and don't remember that he was largely responsible for that terrible event.

From: Michael T. Collins

I have a strong memory of the Challanger disaster. I was still in high school, actually attending college classes in the afternoon after lunch. I was heading home for lunch before my college classes. Earlier that day, around 1 hour before the launch ( which I hated to miss on TV) I had a weird feeling that something bad was going to happen. I knew it was going to involve the shuttle. I blew it off, it only lasted a min or two. I thought of it again as I drove home, I had butterflies in my stomach. My mom met me at the door, She said you are never going to belive what happend. I said, the shuttle blew up? She asked had I heard it on the radio, but in fact I had not. I felt bad for Nasa , the families of the crew. My uncle worked for Nasa during this time. He had worked for Nasa all through the Apollo missions. He had also worked on the ESA Space Lab module for the shuttle. One strong thing I remember was going to Houston in 1981 or so. I recall being at The Johnson space center to see Challenger, when it was brand NEW and being shipped from West coast to east coast for the first time. Seeing it REALLY close, almost close enough to touch. One could feel there was so much pride in the air , We took so many pictures. I then thought about that same machine being in thousands of parts at the bottom of the ocean. It as almost as if it had died to along with the crew. I think we have learned from this, we have moved forward. We realize the risks involved , and yes it will most likely happen again, people will die. But as you think of that, think of this, many more people died in search of the new world, in search of freedom and in search of a dream to explore just as the 7 members of the Challenger crew did on a cold Florida morning in January, 15 years ago...........

From: chris Smith

I was only 2 years old at the time so I don't remember it actually happening. Years later I heard references to 'the Challenger explosion' but put in such simple terms it didn't really hit home. However, last week (I'm writing this on 27th Jan 2001)there was an advertisement for a show about the disaster as its 15th anniversary was coming up. In the advert they showed Christa smiling & waving then the shuttle blowing up. I was completely shocked. Then in a TV magazine there was a long article about it. When I saw the portrait photograph of those 7 people all looking so happy, representing different cultures & filled with promise, I just broke down crying, especially as the accompanying photographs were of the plume of smoke as the shuttle broke apart & a shot of Christa watching a shuttle launch back in '85 (she looked so excited) Of course, I watched the advertised show & it was so sad. It was like Christa was unwittingly signing a death warrant. It was also maddening though as it told of the PR pressure & how, during the meeting where it was decided whether to go ahead or not, 3 people said yes & 1 said no. The others told that one person to 'put their management hat on' That's unbelievable. They actually admitted that they were pretty sure of what was going to happen but they did nothing. That is just so callous & I imagine the guilt that they were the cause of such pain & loss of life haunts them to this day. Tomorrow is the 28th of January & it's the first time in my life that I've been aware of the significance of this date. From now on I'll never forget it though & I'll always remember the names & faces of those 7 brave people. I feel so sorry for their families too, to have to watch their children die like that. My thoughts are with them. I also want to mention Barbara Morgan. She was Christa's understudy & went through all the training with her. She watched the launch from the ground yelling excitedly 'Bye Christa! Bye crew!' It must have been so awful to have seen people she'd been training with gone just like that & also the knowledge that it could have so easily been her. If that was me I just couldn't cope & I'd be scarred for life. However, Barbara has gone on to become a fully qualified astronaut at NASA. Carrying on after witnessing something like that is true bravery & she is keeping Christa's dream alive. Everyone has different opinions of what the most tragic incident they've ever witnessed is, the one thing that they'll never forget & for me it's unquestionably Challenger. I know it's been 15 years but I'm still in a state of shock from seeing it for the first time only last week. For me, it's like it's only just happened & I can't stop thinking about it & asking myself 'How could it happen? How can those people be gone just like that?' That's something I'll never know the answer to though. I can't believe I was actually alive back in January '86 but was completely oblivious to it for all these years. Even though I was very young, I'd still think that I would have taken notice of an event of this magnetude. Everyone must have been talking about it & it must have been on every newspaper & TV set even though I don't live in America (I'm from England) Now every time I look at the sky I think of this tragedy & of those 7 heros - Judy Resnik, Ron McNair, Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis & Christa McAuliffe. You will never be forgotton.

From: Cindy Ireson

I was only 6 years old at the time, but I remember sitting in my 1st grade class watching the launch when the shuttle turned into a giant cloud of smoke. I think that was the day I lost that childhood dream of someday becoming an astronaut. After a while it faded away like so many other childhood memories until August 1999, when I met a beautiful young woman I noticed wearing a medallion of the Challenger mission patch. She turned out to be the daughter of pilot Mike Smith. She was a young child at the time, but she told me about her dad, the kind of man he was, how hard it was to see her dad killed live, and then having to deal with her grief in the national spotlight. It suddenly became very personal to me, bringing back the memories and emotions of that day. I'm not a very emotional person, but I always well up when I see images of the Challenger.


I was in 8th grade, and we were taking our High School Entrance exams. The principal of the school came in and asked us to put down our pencils. We did, and he told us the Challenger had exploded. Most of the kids figured there must be some kind of eject seat, the crew was fine. I knew better, I did a science project on the space shuttle. I was pretty sure they were dead. I ran home from school that day and sat in front of the news from 3 pm until bedtime. Then, when I went to bed, for the first time in my life I turned off the music on my radio and changed it from FM to AM to listen to the news station. I just kept hearing them say it over and over, and it still didn't seem real. I remember my mom talking about JFK getting killed and how she never forgot that moment. I didn't understand what she meant until January 28th, 1986.

From: Ian

I remember the Challenger disaster like it was yesterday. I was home sick that day, I was watching tv and the exact moment that the explosion happened the power went off, It was only off for two minutes, when the power came back on I was surfing channels and I all I saw was the news coverage. as soon as I realized what happened I was devastated. when I was installed as worthy advisor of rainbows, I dedicated my term to the memory of the challenger crew. Being from Houston, I find evidence of their greatness every day, my heart always has and always will be out to their families. God Bless. Stacy Holt

From: Stacy Holt

I was at work, typing on word processor, casually listening to radio, when several people came to my office door and asked me to turn up the radio. It was then I realized the music had stopped and the tragic news was being announced. We all sat/stood quietly for several minutes, in disbelief of what we had just heard. NASA, being near Houston, gave us all a feeling of camaraderie with Florida and because of that feeling, we had mixed emotions. We had thoughts of who screwed up, what caused this accident, anger, as well as, a feeling of tremendous loss. My thoughts turned to the children all over the world watching/listening to this piece of history. My generation has the JFK assassination, the children of the 80's have the Challenger disaster.

From: Karen Foster Montgomery

I Remember when the challenger exploded. I was in third grade. I was always intersted in the space program even at a young age. I remember watching all of the events that led up to the first civillian teacher in space. They were etched into my mind forever. I wrote 2 poems years later that I feel are a good way to commemorate them. I was still young when I wrote the but I would like to share them here. Hero As I look up to the stars I think of a hero... Many people have many different types of heros... My heros touched the future and touched my heart... They may be gone but I want them to know you will always live in my heart... This poem is dedicated to the crew of the Challenger... 'AMY 1995' THE CHALLENGER Seven people gave up their lives to the space program... For that they shall be honored by many people as heros... In my heart they will be more than just my heros... They will inspire me to make my dreams possible... They will always live in my heart.... 'Amy'

From: Amy

I was 24 and had just started my first real professional job out of college. I was in my office working away with some kind of top-40 happy talk radio station on the background. The announcer said the shuttle had exploded and it took me 15-20 seconds to realize they wouldn't be joking around about something like that. I went to my buddy in the next office and told him what I heard. The two of us made our way down to the lounge where there was a TV. As we watched the replay my friend gave a low whistle and quietly said, "No one made it out of that". For someone who had come of age in the miraculous triumphs of the US space program, seeing endless relays of that fireball kind of marked the end of my youth.

From: michael

15 years ago this past Sunday, impossible to imagine, much like the tragedy itself, I was in 3rd grade when the teacher brought the Tv into the classroom and we watched 7 people die way too early. Worst national disaster to take place so far in my lifetime, hope nothing else comes close. The image of the astronauts walking to the shuttle and of the explosion will NEVER leave my mind.

From: jamie

I came from Germany and many happened in the 80's. I was only seven years old on the day the Challenger exploded but this picture are one of them which I'll nerver forget. For me it is one of the most important (sadly) memory of the 80's.

From: Andre

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