Memories of the Challenger

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

I was woken by the phone ringing....I picked it was my dad (I was 15) he said "the space shuttle just blew up" and knowing that my dad was always playing tricks on me, I said" yeah, right!" He told me to turn my TV on, so I did. I could not believe what I was seeing. I walked around in a state of numbness that day, as did every other resident in Key Biscayne, Fl. It was a very, very, sad day

From: Samantha

I was born in 1981 so that would have made me five when the Challenger shuttle exploded. Not being from America I suppose My family didn't feel it was something that I needed to know where I was growing up as I never knew of this disaster until I read a astronomy and space magazine 2 years ago. I cried when I read about it. I have always been a keen folower of space and the landing on the moon so it hit me hard to think such a disaster could occur and not all of the shuttle be recovered. So when I was watching the launch of Discovery 7 with John Glenn on it, the show I was watching while they making final preperations for take off, they played the clip of the Challenger disaster and I found myself sitting in the room staring at the screen, not because I am a morbid person but the final realization that something of that magnitude could actually happen and everyone would die. To this day I sometimes think of it, but it has taught me that in the most diverse of circumstances life and people come together to create a unified force that can comfort people in the most extreme circumstances. I believe that the challenger crew look down on us and would be proud of the achievments that we have made since then and wouldn't want us to be sad. I just hope that the families are okay and that they have managed to cope with life. Claire Perrin (England)

From: Claire Perrin

I was ten when the Challenger exploded. I remember watching it in the library at school. Our music teacher, whom everybody LOVED was very big into the space program. He had been a finalist for the teacher to go up in space. Our school had been talking about Challenger for what seemed like forever. When it exploded, and for a long time after, I remember the strange feeling that it could have been our well loved music teacher up there that day. That personal connection is what made the day really stick in my memory.

From: varkgirl

I remember where I was that day and what I was doing when the Challenger exploded. I'm sure it is a memory similar to the assasination of President JFK. They were two events that people everywhere know where they were when the disasters occurred. I was only eight years old and in second grade. Ms. Dillman let us watch it on a TV in the classroom, which was quite a treat since we never had that priviledge until that day. (We never had it again after the Challenger explosion.) Upon watching it, we were all excited, we had been learning all about space and space shuttles and about a school teacher that was going into space. When I saw the explosion, I and I'm sure most of the others in class, didn't quite grasp what had happened until I saw the expression and emotion on my teacher's face. It was then that I realized that what had just happened was real.

From: Adam Provance

I was 4 when the accident happen and I don't know how but I still remember that terrible sight on T.V. don't ask my how at 4 and now I am 19 in the military still remember that. Well I have gone to Arlington were the crew lay in peace and it hits you and then you ask your self why that happen but their is no answers for that question only god and only god will answer that quetions one day as for now we just let it be. Lcpl Colon H. USMC

From: Hommy Colon

I remember I was in the 6th grade, and that particular day I had a dentist appointment. I got back from the appointment and walked into the class, everyone was crying and shocked, they were watching the news. I asked what's going on. My friend said the space shuttle blew up. I asked did anyone survive, because I did not see or hear how it happned. I then saw a replay, and I saw the explosion, I knew from the bottom of my heart, that the people on the space shuttle were in their eternity. That was probably one of the saddest days in my life. I kind of felt, at that point, that we should not be looking to space. I felt God was saying leave it alone, we do not belong there. It was truly tragic. From Dwayne

From: Dwayne

I am a late baby boomer who grew up watching the Apollo program. I recall the intense excitement of each launch (along witht he Tang commercials). Then Apollo ended early due to budget cuts, we tossed up a few converted Apollo stages to create a tin-can space station called Skylab, did a one-shot meaningless link-up with the Soviets then proceeded to take years to produce a semi-reusable, overbudget fundamentally flawed system called the Space Transportation System commonly known as the Shuttle. When launches started happening again I was hoping the excitment would be re-kindled, however, NASA and the media tried so hard to portray space travel as a normal everyday thing. The public lost interest, shuttle workers got sloppy, mission management became lax. On January 28, 1986 reality paid a call. I was sitting upstairs working on a database project for my father, having forgot that there was a shuttle launch that day, when my mother called up to tell me that my sister had just called and did I know the shuttle had exploded. For only the second time in my life I used the word "Fuck" in front of my mother, ran downstairs and turned the TV on. The debris was still falling and I knew the thrilling concept of spaceflight that had driven me to study physics and astronomy through university had died.

From: Greg

I remember the Challenger shuttle incident. I was 9 when it happened. I was in school at the time, and everyone was sent into the gym. We sat in lines and the principal came in and told us what happened. We were really suprised to hear it and they sent us all home. My friend Seneca and I spent the rest of the day watching the recap at his house. It was on the news many times. It seemed horrible and entrancing at the same time. But we were to young to really understand. Now, news stories are repeated over and over in the same manner and they are rarely as important as this news was at the time. It seems that people are more callous and politically correct now. I will remember the 80's forever. I even have a copy of the January 29, 1986 Rocky Moutain News that covered what happened.

From: Michael Russom

I will never forget that cold January day in 1986. I was a first year teacher in Jacksonville, Florida sharing an incredible experience with my 3rd grade class. My husband was an Ensign in the USN stationed on a frigate out of Mayport, FL. We were seperated by our first Med. cruise during this time. My class had spent weeks studying space and the history of NASA. I was participating in the "Teacher in Space" project, and had been receiving information for months. We were involved in experiments, research projects, and so many things that would culminate with this very special mission, the 25th in the Space Shuttle program. Christa was a mentor to me and a hero to my students. That day I stood on the lawn outside my classroom looking expectantly into the sky with 33 students around me. We all waited excitedly and the children squealed with delight when the Challenger came into view on the horizon. Then we noticed the white smoke and the split Y pattern in the sky. I knew in my heart at that moment that something was terribly wrong. The children all started to ask what was happening but I was afraid to answer. We ran into our classroom and turned on one of the few TV sets in the school. As we learned of the tragedy, the children and I began to cry. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed and not knowing what to do to comfort my classroom full of 3rd graders. Our principal addressed the school on the loudspeaker within minutes. The rest of the day is a blur, spent watching events unfold on the TV and bringing the students outside to keep them active. We were all in shock and talked a lot that day and for weeks afterward about the loss we all felt. I grieved for the spouses and children all the shuttle astronauts left behind. Tonight I stumbled across this web site while doing research with my son for an 8th grade History Fair project- his topic, The Challenger Disaster. Robert has always loved anything to do with Space Exploration and dreams of one day traveling in space himself. He has been looking for primary source material and people he could interview for his project. When I began to share my experiences with him, he turned to me and said, "Mom, I can interview you!" I just never had considered myself an eyewitness to history previously. Ironically, I found out I was expecting my first child shortly after the Challenger disaster, and you guessed it... Robert is that child. Tonight I read President Reagan's address to my son. I was touched yet again by the final paragraph in his remarks, "The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.' "

From: Kathleen Alley

I remember vividly, we watched it in school, in fact my class was going to get a lesson from the teacher in space, I'll never forget it And I've never in all the years forgotten the teacher's name...

From: kyle

I was not born when the tragedy happened, but what my mom told me was just enough so that it almost feels like I was there. She was up stairs feeding my older brother (he was a baby) when the shuttle went off. She watched all those people go up and then right before her eyes all those heroic people died . She yelled down to my dad and my dad hurried upstairs. By the time my dad got there my mom was crying vary hard. My brother, even though he didn't understand why, started to cry too. That heroic group of people were very special people. And that is why for my Biography I am writing it on Christa McAliffe. She is very special to me even though I wasn't even born when it happened.

From: Gillian Miller

As a child who was especially fascinated by the Space Program, the loss of Challenger and her crew was the most electric and devestating day of my childhood. As I ate breakfast before school that morning, the "Today" show mentioned the upcoming launch and how crews were removing ice from the launch pad. A few hours later, as I sat in my seventh grade math class, our principal delievered the following message over the school intercom: "Teachers, if you have TV's in your rooms and you haven't already heard, the Space Shuttle has just exploded in midair and everyone is presumed dead." I remember my own gut wrenching feelings and the expressions on my classmate's faces. We broke for lunch and were able to talk to students who had seen the launch. However, the awful, socially unskilled moron teachers at my school did not take into account our intense interest in the tragedy and acted as if nothing had happened. We weren't even allowed to watch footage of the disaster. I still remember having to spend the rest of the day numb, wondering what the explosion must have looked like while those idiots babbled some dull lectures to still devestated children. Heros had died and all they could think of were lesson plans. After school, I met up with a friend who lived close to the school; we ran to his house and I saw the footage for the first time. I remember taking comfort in the Grandfatherly style, comforting speech made by President Reagan that night. That is why they called him the Great Communicator, he had a way of making a crisis seem a little less chaotic. God bless you Challenger Seven and peace be with your families.

From: steven

Very eerie day. I live in Florida and I was in 7th grade and our teacher didn't let us watch the telecast because we were mis-behaving that day. Another teacher came over and told us the Challenger just exploded. We all turned the TV on and saw what just happened and a calm came over the classroom. Some of us ran outside and looked in the sky and saw the trails of smoke over the horizon where the explosion just occured. In Florida, everyone goes outside to see the Shuttle launches and this is one we will never forget.

From: Clint

I remember that day in 1986, watching the countdown to Challenger's launch in a school assembly with 400 other students and teachers. My second grade class had spent weeks studying space and charting the history of NASA. Christa McAuliffe was a hero, a teacher like the one who taught my science class, an ordinary American ready to realize a dream. I remember cheering, watching the split screen show of lift-off and Christa's class observing the launch. Then I remember white smoke, a teacher screamed and students began to cry. Someone shut off the television quickly and everyone sat there until a teacher turned the tv back on. They showed the explosion again and again. For the rest of the day people cried and we all sort of sat there doing nothing, some kids went home. That night I watched Ronald Reagan's speech with my parents and remembered thinking about his words "as they slipped out of reach to touch the face of God." What simple truth. Later that month my school dedicated the lobby to the heroes, our "Challenger 7", and to this day a huge portrait reminds students, parents, and teachers of those innocent victims of fate who captivated a nation and left us all reeling.

From: Josh & Heather

Kia Ora (Hello) from Whakatane, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand (NZ). I was 11 at the time and visitng my grandparents with my family in Opotiki, in the Bay Of Plenty, in New Zealand during the summer school holidays. I must admit I don't remember much of what was happening at the time but I do remember that the TV was turned on and remember seeing a special news bulletin of some sort broadcast by TVNZ (tee vee n zed) (Television New Zealand) on one of it's network channels (probably TV ONE). I think that either my parents or grandparents heard a news bulletin on the radio mentioning it and then they must of turned the TV on to see if it was been shown on the television which as it turned out was been broadcast in NZ sometime in the morning around breakfast time New Zealand time as I seem to remember slightly. I have seen recently here in NZ in June 2000 the CNN 20th Anniversary programme hosted by Larry King with how CNN covered the Challenger disaster and how CNN lead up to the liftoff point and the explosion and how some of the CNN crew who covered it at the launch pad and presented the broadcast from the studio handled the disaster. I found of particular interest that out of ALL the news teams there from CNN and the 3 main free to air networks ABC, CBS, NBC, that ONLY CNN broadcast the event LIVE to air. The others were of the opinion that it was routine and were there to tape and play it later. I assume and from reading messages posted on this site that they all broke into regular programming to cover the story live not long after the shuttle exploded and the fate of the shuttle and crew was confirmed. When I looked the coverage 14 years later through CNN's coverage on its 20th Anniversary programme I felt quite sad by it and thought what a horrible disaster it was then, especially for those involved at the moment it happend. I now know how people felt when it happened.

From: Aaron Anderson In New Zealand

I was a senior in high school and there was an announcement over the PA system. I was in my chemistry class with a teacher that had gone through some of the interview process in hopes of being the civilian teacher on board. It was very surreal to be in the classroom with a teacher who quite possibly could have been on the Challenger. I remember watching the news all evening and each time they showed the take-off, I hoped that somehow the Challenger would make it past that fatal 73 second point and continue on into the atmosphere.

From: Brenda

I was 6. I remember standing next to my mother as we watched the shuttle take off. The explosion came and my mother began to break down. I had no idea what was going on, and my mother was in no position to tell me.

From: Eli

I wasn't born yet but after reading all the articles about it it's a very sad moment. I have been to Arlington National Cemetry several times and have seen the crew's grave and every time I see it I get a little emotional. I live in Massachusetts where Christa was from. In less then a week now I will be going to Framingham State College where there is a Space Center there dedicated to Christa and all the other Crew members. I hope to do a report on this subject one day to learn much much more.

From: Jim

I remember it as clear as day. I was 19. I had to stay over in Kentucky in a backwoods town. I was waiting to load up some things and when I went into the office I saw the shuttle going up. It was just another launch, nothing really, it had been something we were all used to seeing by now. Then all of a sudden, the world at one moment stopped and knew something was wrong. I can remember listening to the radio on the way back, people from all over talking how the school kids were crying and how it hit people. It's a strange world how one moment complete joy then in the next..complete numbness. I feel for the families that lost their loved ones all over a cheaply made seal and a organization that was pushing to keep the program alive.

From: Jim

I vividly remember when the Challenger disaster occurred. I was 18 years old at the time and driving down the mountain to community college when I heard about it on the radio. I remember the incredible sadness that overcame me and I started to cry. It was so unreal that they could be gone in an instant.

From: Molly

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