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 still remember that day very vividly. I was an engineer working for McDonnell Douglas at Kennedy Space Center. I almost decided to skip watching the launch because it was close to lunchtime, and I wanted to beat the crowds at the lunch room. But eventually I decided to go over to the mechanical engineering offices to watch the launch from their 3rd floor windows in the O&C building. I was right up against the window and watched the shuttle ignite and clear the tower. I was going to turn away then, but one of my friends pulled me back and said I should watch it till it was out of sight. After that, events were like slow motion. I saw the boosters come loose and for a fraction of a second thought they had been jettisoned on purpose and the shuttle would have to make an emergency landing. But then the main tank exploded and we were all in shock. A few seconds later we heard the sound of the explosion and saw the pieces floating down. Since there are no public announcement speakers in the offices, I stumbled out into the hallway to listen to the launch announcer. He was all choked up but still trying to be professional as he said that there had been a major incident and that rescue helicopters were on the way to the crash site out at sea. I just sort of slid down the wall till I was sitting on the floor crying. At that point they locked down the Space Center to start the investigation. We obviously didn't get any more work done that day as we watched the replays over and over on the NASA closed circuit tv system, and hoping to hear that there were survivors. What I remember as the most strange thing was the the explosion contrail--that famous picture--stayed in the sky for a long time--no wind at that altitude to blow it apart. So everytime I passed a window--it was still there. After that I remember one other distinct image; the seven hearses bringing the remains of the crew slowly driving down the causeway in front of our building. It was very sad and very emotional.

From: Patricia Loegering

I can't believe I haven't done this yet. I was 14 when this happened. It was also my grandmother's 75th birthday. I was in Mr. Radtke's Algebra class when the Principal came over the loudspeaker to tell us what had happened, he sounded like he had been crying. The company that made the faulty O-ring, Morton Thiokol, was the main employer for the town I lived in. It was a tough four years until the next shuttle went up. A local news station filmed our American Government class watching that take-off. It went up and we were all just silent, I think they wanted a reaction but we were all holding our breath, silently willing it to be successful.

From: Dagny

I remember exactly where I was when the Challenger exploded. Me and the rest of my 6th grade class were sitting in Social Studies watching it on the T.V. Our teacher, Mr. Applegarth, thought it would be a good learning experience for us. When it exploded, we were all kind of in shock. We were all looking at each other like, "That isn't what was supposed to happen, is it?". It was all so surreal. I remember it like it was yesterday. Like 9/11, it's one of those things that is seared into my mind FOREVER. I imagine that it's forever imprinted on the minds of all the "Children of the 80's". God bless us all.

From: Kathy

I was 20 years old working on the AM side of a local radio station running Paul Harvey news and comments when all of a sudden the network cut in and stated. "This is ABC, we are going live in 20 seconds from mark" followed by a tone. They repeated this till it was at the top of the minute. Then they came across and said. "THIS IS ABC NEWS. THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER HAS EXPLODED!" Followed of course was constant headline statements. Then they cut us to dead air! I started flipping the network switches of the other network feeds till I got a news service and left it there saying" We'll keep you informed as we receive information. Now all during this time my heart was beating 5 feet from me trying to keep calm and people were coming out of there offices heading to the conference room to watch the TV. My dad and sister were home with the flu that day too and had watched it live. Yes I remember vividly where I was that day.

From: Howard

I Remember Jan 28th,1986 almost two well I was in a second Grade Class room In Indianapolis and the Subject was science and the Space Shuttle the subject was the Challenger. That morning the teacher went and got a couple of newspaper articles and we got the Tv and VCR, and the third grade class came in and we all watched the Challenger go up in space. After it went off we started cheering and then the next minute the fourth grade class room teacher came in and said "Tragedy has struck the crew members of the Challenger and that moment we turned on the Tv again and we saw what had happened. Tears flowed down my face because we thought this was a day of science, a day of joy but when the Crew members of Challenger died that day. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day while our parents came and got us because we where all deeply saddened by the loss of Challenger. The teachers thought it wouldn't be right to have classes so we had a choice to stay in school or go home. I stayed in school with the rest of my class and we just watched the news highlights and the replay over and over again. And that night we went to church to pray for the victims families of Challenger. Now, since I'm 26 years old but I will always be greatful for science and I send my sympathys and prayers to the families and to the family of the Challenger and friends of the vitims of Challenger. I'm deeply saddened for your loss but hopefully sharing my memories will ease the pain. Thank You Katie Williams Indianapolis Now University of Notre Dame Indiana

From: Katie Williams

I was 11 yrs old and at school. I had to go to gym class but I didn't want to go because I wanted to watch the Challenger go up but the teacher said don't worry I will tell you all about it when you come back. Gym class was over and when I went back to class the teacher didn't look happy. She told me what happened.. I was scared. We watched it on tv and then when school was over I went home and watched it on tv.. It was horrible.. I can't believe a teacher died. :(

From: sonya b

I was in the 5th grade and my teacher was in the middle of a discussion when another teacher (perhaps a friend) came in and sofly told her about what had just happpened to the Challenger. Our teacher then turned to us and discreetly broke the news to us (the class). I'll never forget the reaction. It hurts to think about it.

From: Shawn

I remember this day. I was off school for snow. We were watching the space shuttle take off. I am not sure anymore if it was a school assignment or what. I was only 16. I couldn't believed it happened as the space shuttle was the super new age of space travel. Most tradgic and horrible to see it as it was happening! And proud families watched as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters & friends etc were obliterated in front of their eyes! But the worst part was yet to come... all those horrible jokes about certain passengers who were aboard. My thoughts... this couldn't have happened in America! but it did. America was a super power. (And again later we lost another crew over Texas.) Not so super after all.

From: Karyn D.

I was in Freshman year Science class. My Science teacher had actually been a finalist to be that teacher in space. He was a boring, straight-laced typical dry science teacher. As the drama unfolded, he started to cry. Seeing him crying was as traumatic as seeing the explosion. Horrible.

From: Jill

I was is the 6th grade when the Challenger accident occured. I was in school and the Teachers had all of the kids in my class go to the library to watch the news footage of the explosion. I still think about it alot today as we recently had another disaster with Columbia. I often think of what it must have been like for a Father or Mother to tell their kids that their mommy or daddy has gone to heaven, as a kid you don't think about those kinds of things and I didn't at the time. There is risk in anything we do, I tell my wife and 2 girls that I love them and give hugs and kisses whenever I can because tomorrow is not a sure thing, Challenger has taught us this painful lesson.

From: E. Payton

I think I was in the 2nd grade when the Challenger exploded. I remember being in the lunch room and they had set the tv's up so that everyone could watch the coverage during our lunch hour. We were just a bunch of kids all excited for the upcoming events. Then it happened and I remember the silence and the awful feeling that took ahold of us. The thought of it still sends an awful shock to my heart. I will never forget that moment.

From: Desiree

I'll never forget when the Challenger exploded. I was in second grade and during the weeks leading up to the launch, all three second grade classes had all of their lessons somehow relating back to the Challenger and that there was going to be a teacher going into space. I remember all the second graders sitting in our classroom, with the desks pushed back against the wall. All of us watching what we had been building up for weeks as the coolest thing in the world....most of us wanted to grow up to be like that teacher. I remember not really knowing what I was seeing until my teacher started crying. I remember one of the male teachers escorting her into the hallway while the other male teacher tried to get us to come to terms with what we just saw. I remember it like it was yesterday, and I, too couldn't help but remember the Challenger when the Columbia broke apart on re-entery. The JFK shootings of my generation: September 11, the OKC bombing, The day Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm, the Berlin Wall and first and foremost, the Challenger.

From: teddybelle

I had moved from FL to NC and was teaching at Rosman Elem. School. It was a teacher workday and we were all gathered around the TV watching the take-off. Like the rest of the world, we were stunned, shocked, numb, crying, and silent. Much of our workday was spent at the TV. It is one of the memories that I'll always remember: where I was and what I was doing. I've since that time returned to FL. and have always purchased the Challenger licence plate for my car. Christa and the others left a lasting impression.

From: Marilyn Rabin

I was very sad that the ship exploded. My mom told me all about it. I feel sorry for the teacher and her family. May she rest in peace.


We were in 8th grade and by then space shuttle take offs were fairly common but this one was special because of Christa, especially at my school because one of our teachers had been one of the teachers involved with the project. The entire school was watching and the room went DEAD silent, all except the science teacher that just whispered "Oh my god." Having known Christa from training it hit home like a rock. That was it, everyone was in tears. I think it was almost a week before we all really came out of the daze we were in and our science teacher had a sub for two days afterwards.

From: celanna

I was a junior in high school in Centralia (Missouri) and we were bowling in gym at the local bowling alley. They were playing TV and someone said the shuttle blew up. Sure enough - our entire gym class watch the tv - stunned by what we saw.

From: Tami Templeton Martin

I was living in West Memphis, AR at the time...on the night of the Challenger explosion, I went to see a concert in Memphis, TN of Loverboy, with The Hooters opening for them. Still have my ticket stub from the Mid-South Collesium. The lead singer actually paused during the show to ask for a moment of silence in memory of the crew of the shuttle.

From: Mark Ramsey

I was in the first grade when the Challenger blew up. I am 26 now and I can remember every second of it. My teacher,(and I can't even remember her name) wheeled in one of those huge school t.v's and turned off the lights so we could watch. And all I remember seeing was it going up and exploding. Then it replayed over and over. It seemed like forever.

From: John Laroe

I remember this horrible tragedy like it was yesterday, I was 12 years old (I am now 32 and work with my father who is a real estate developer) he was on the phone with a client in Orlando when he overheard of the explosion. He later told me about it that night when he got home from the office. I hope this never happens again. I was in the 5th grade at Morgan Woods Elementary School when Challenger exploded. Clark Drew Tampa,Florida

From: Wm.Clark Drew II

My clock radio woke me up in the rented home I shared with my roommate in Seattle, only a mile from the U of W. The news was going on about NASA disasters and someone was talking about the Jan 27, 1967 launchpad capsule fire that killed astronaughts White, Chaffe, Grissom. I thought it was an odd topic and started getting dressed for class. Then the radio news person talked about how it compares with "today's Challenger explosion." My head snapped around to listen more closely. I then learned that the space shuttle had exloded. I made my way to the U of W and walked into the student center to see everyone glued to the telvisions. No one spoke. No one moved. Then I saw the replay of the explosion and my jaw dropped. Walked around in a daze the rest of the morning; no one could get any work done in class. It was just too awful.

From: Quinn

Previous List or Next List

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

Would You Like To Add Your Memories?

Got an idea for a page we don't have yet?

Submit your memories