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 remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in fifth grade at a private parochial school. It was a very poor school since it was not funded by the state. Not all of the rooms had televisions. I remember being so angry that our class was one of the rooms that didn't have a television. I was what you would call a "space cadet" and wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up, so I was very interested in this particular event. I remember the fourth grade teacher coming and getting our class so we could watch the replay of what had happened. None of our class knew at the time of the horrible tragedy. I was so excited that I was going to get to watch the lift off. My best friend and I started chattering very excitedly. The teacher began to scold us and told us that we should be ashamed of ourselves for acting that way after such a tragedy. My friend and I were just dumbfounded. We walked into her class and some of the other students were visibly upset. As I took a seat at the back of the class the image of the explosion came on the screen. I couldn't believe it. I will never forget the overwhelming fear and distress I felt at that moment. I began to cry. The next thing I remember was all of the students going to assembley to pray. We were dismissed early from school that day. For the next couple of weeks we had prayer vigils every day for the families of the crew. Even today, I still get emotional whenever the Challenger is mentioned. It is truly a day that many of us will never forget.

From: Jennifer Noble

I was in grade school, and we were learning about space. So naturally, our teachers took all of us (1st-5th graders) into the lunchroom to watch the launch. I remember the teachers telling us that there was a teacher going into space, and that we were going to watch her broadcast later in the week. Well they sat us down and we watched the launch, then it blew up. Some of us thought that was the way it was supposed to go, until a teacher screamed. No one turned off the television set for a few minutes. I guess the adults realized they had 75 small children staring at the tramamatic event. The quickly turned off the tv and shuffled us back to class, and spent the rest of the day answering our questions about what happened to the shuttle, God, and death.

From: Casey

I remember this tragedy being on the BBC national news, and Mr. Gorbachev expresing his condolences. It is easy for those of us who will never be astronauts to think that they are the luckiest people who have fantastic lives, but this kind of tragedy shows that they face the danger of death too.

From: Miland Joshi

I lived in Ft. Myers, Florida at the time. I was 5 years old, but I remember we would always stop what school work we were doing and we would all go outside to watch. I saw the normal trail from the shuttle and then a big ball of smoke. I could even hear the explosion. I am now 19 and I still remember clearly what I saw and felt that day.

From: Wayne

I was 10 years old when the Challenger exploded. I am a native of Orlando, Florida just 45 miles from Cape Canaveral. I was at school playing on the playground when I heard the kids yelling "The shuttle'ss going up" so we started to watch the smoke trail come up over the trees. I was just a kid and really didn't understand, but from what I remember the shuttle had just completed it's roll and was at its axis heading into the far Florida sky when I can still to this day remember seeing with my own eyes a faint burst and cloud of smoke arise. I still remember the pop you could hear from the distance, the sound had been so terrific you could have heard it all the way to Tampa, I will never forget what I saw that day from the schoolyard. James C. Howard, Florida Native

From: James C. Howard

I was a junior in high school and one of our assistant principals had gone to school with Christa McAuliffe so the whole school was watching. It was utter silence when it exploded. None of us could believe it. It was terrible seeing our 'tough' assistant principal crying. He was personally shaken. I remember watching the news until very late that night and praying that there was some way that the astronauts would be found alive. Even my mom, the eternal pessimist, was holding out hope for them. But, of course, to no avail. I will always remember that day as a very sad day. I finally got to visit the space center in Florida a few months ago and all these memories came back to me very vividly.

From: Cathy

I was 12 years old and in the 6th grade. We were out of school that day because of snow. I had never seen a live launch on TV before & was looking forward to it. After it happened I remember watching the news most of the day trying to find out what had caused the disaster. It was very sad then & still is today.

From: Steve

I was not born when this tragedy happened, but when I was 3 years old I remember my mom talking about it. I was born in 1986 the same year this tragedy happened, knowing about the space shuttle is so cool but you know there are risks with it. My family used to talk alot about and how faulty NASA was because they launched a shuttle knowing that one of the O-rings would not work properly below 56 degrees. I think NASA was faulty because the crew members did not know anything that was happening and the risk they would be through. I think this will always be in my mind watching that video and the explosion and the faces of the flight controllers just looking at that screen and watching seven people die although it's believed and it became clear when the bodies were brought up that most of the crew survived the 3to4 minute fall to sea. The crew comparment was found 40 days later, I think. After this happened NASA has taken no risks anymore I think the shuttle program will go on for a long time and the memories of those seven heroes will be part of the history of the space program and the space shuttle program.

From: diego

I remember this event pretty well. I was about 12 years old in the 6th grade at the time. We had all lined up after recess to go back to class. We were standing outside the entrance of our wing of the school when one of the teachers announced to dozens of kids, "the space shuttle blew up". DEAD SILENCE. For the rest of the day we saw the footage of the space shuttle during take off and exploding. Even for kids as young as us, we were blown away by the event. I'm very sorry to say that a number of us made jokes. The ones about what does NASA stand for? Needs Another Seven Astronauts. What color were Christa's eyes? Blue. One blew this way, one blew that way. Well, now in my late 20's I can look back and say I was very stupid. That is NOT funny. They are dead. They are not coming back. I watched a quick movie of it online a few days ago of the take off and explosion and it brought back a LOT of memories. We were asked in class how we felt about the incident. I remember saying I was in the state of shock. Even to this day I am still shocked that this happened. But remember, we all get our tickets punched eventually. And for those of us that are deeply saddened by what happen to those 7 astronauts, just remember: it was quick. They didn't have to suffer or feel the pain. Their death was instantaneous. At least it was over very fast. Now, 14 years after the incident, time has moved on. We will never forget it, it is permanately etched in the minds of us who witnessed it. I'm sure the astronauts today would be very happy to know that this many millions of people remember it and have not forgotten them. They still live on in our memories. I'm glad I got to share the experience and can remember it, but that does not make me happy that it happened. It was a horrifying tragedy to witness 7 people die in an explosion. I'm sure the families felt MUCH worse. But we learn from our mistakes.

From: aaron

I was six years old and I was starting grade 1 that year. I was at my home at the central coast of New South Wales in Australia. I woke on the morning of January 29 1986 and as per usual I switched the tv on for my morning cartoons. However the tv was still on the channel we watched the news on that pervious night and they were showing a repeat of the launch as part of their special news report. When I saw Challenger explode before me on that tv screen I was dumb stuck. I just sat there staring at the screen. Some time later my mum got up and saw me still in front of the tv she asked me what the matter was. All I could manage to say was "It Blew up" The impact of Challenger did not hit me until I was 13 when I did a school paper on the history of the space shuttle. When I did that paper all the memories came flooding back to me. Every year since 1993 I have held 2 minutes silence at 11:38 am on the 28th of January for the seven brave Astronauts of the STS-51L Challenger.

From: Michael C

I was almost 10 and in the 4th grade the day the shuttle exploded...My class had just gotten back from getting our fingerprints taken by the police department. A child had been kidnapped the week before and "to be on the safe side" the police came and took all of our prints for our parent's files. My whole school had been closely following the whole shuttle, since, as a few other posters had said, one of our teachers was also involved. He has actually been narrowed down into the top 5 and had to go to Kennedy for some further testing and such. Anyways, we were all watching in our classrooms and were just stunned when it happened. At first we were confused, but then I said "I'm pretty sure that isn't normal" and our teacher started to cry. It was horrible. I will never forget that day or how I felt. Then I got home from school and my mom was crying. I thought she had seen it on TV too, but as it turns out, my grandmother had died that morning. So, as well as the national tragedy, I also associate that day with a personal tragedy. Probably the worst day of my life that I can activly remember.

From: Rebecca

I was a junior in college at the University of Wyoming, majoring in education, when the Challenger exploded. I was walking down the hall of my dormitory when I heard the cleaning lady's radio in the restroom talking about something that had gone terribly wrong. Something about the voice coming over the radio made me stop to find out more information. I thought, "Oh God, that's the one with the teacher on it". I then went down to the lobby where everything was being unveiled on the television screen. I stood there in absolute disbelief. I was late for class so I took off across campus. You could tell students were finding out about this tragedy. When I got to class, the professor walked in, informed everyone of the event that had unfolded in the last hour and dismissed class. As I walked back to the dorm, there was an erie quiet throughout the campus. As I neared the center of campus where a large flagpole sets, the R.O.T.C. was lowering the flag to half-staff. I remember everyone stopping to honor this moment and then moving on. I was born two years after the assassination of President Kennedy, but now I understand what people mean about remembering where you were and what you were doing at a certain moment in time. I also remember talking about the explosion shortly after it had happened. One of my friends asked me if, as a teacher, I would be willing to go up in a space shuttle. "Absolutely", I replied. God Bless Christa McAuliffe and the rest of the Challenger crew.

From: Kelli Heaston

I had just turned 10 nine days before it happened. I was planning a slumber party for my birthday (because for some reason I couldn't have it the weekend before). I was really excited about the Challenger going up because I wanted to be an astronaut. (I thought since I knew all of the planets names I was a shoe in *grin*). Anyway, my school didn't let us watch the shuttle take off so, I found out when I got home. My mom was crying and we all watched the news for the rest of the night while making invitations for my slumber party. I remember that Christa McAuliffe was taking a frog up with her for some sort of experiment or something. I was sad because the frog died too, and no one really cared. then, of course, there was the Punky Brewster "very special episode" and I remember changing my mind about being an astronaut.

From: mary hutter

I remember the day that the Space Shuttle CHALLENGER blew up and where I was at at the time. I was in a comic book store and the owner had the television on so he could watch the liftoff. We all stood there and watched it and a minute and a half later it was all over, gone. It was very sad.

From: Maria Gavin

I wasn't born yet, when this happened. Everytime I think about it, I get tears to my eyes. Not only is my goal is, but will be an astronaut, and if I get on Mars first, I'm going to be placing nto only the U.S flag there, but a Flag in memory of the Crew of Challenger.

From: Jonathan Willbur

I was not alive when the space shuttle exploded but we are studying this stuff. Our teacher showed us a clip with the footage. When I saw that movie my heart just sank.

From: Ryan Murdock

I wasn't born when the explosion happened, but I was born a year later. When I was ten I was watching the news the very day it happened 11 years later. Ever since then, I wanted to know what happened and what it looked like. I was searching on the internet for some information and I found a video. I was shocked. I couldn't believe that they could actually send seven people on a doomed shuttle flight when NASA knew what could happen. My mother told my that they called it the Murphy's Law mission and it turned out to be a premonition. I commend all seven that went up and the sad fact is that the initial explosion didn't kill them, it was the water impact. I was born in May of '87 and I will never forget the day that this happened.

From: Danny

I was 17 years old. Actually I was skipping school at lunch when I went into the Quickmart, I remember the manager walking in saying "damn, the space shuttle just exploded". When I got back to school, I checked out sick. I wanted to go home and find out what was going on. The news coverage was extensive, memories etched into my mind forever.... From that one moment in time, I have always remembered Challenger, expelling my drive to see an actual shuttle launch, kind of in a strange way to give me closer on such an unforgetable moment in time. I just visited DC over the weekend, and at the Arlington National Cemetary, the Commander and Pilot are buried there. I relived the impact that it had on my life all over again. Small tombstones with a vague reminder of the accident. I was finally able to pay my respect, and thank them for all they had done.

From: Terry

I have no memories of that explosion. I wasn't even born yet. But, on the second anniversary of the explosion, I was born. My mom had no clue what to name me. So, she named me after Christa McAuliffe. That's what I don't like about my birthday. Everyone is mourning of the loss on MY birthday. I never really have an exciting party because everyone is talking about the tragedy and being all depressed when I just want to have fun. I wish I knew more about the explosion...

From: Christa

I remember being excited about getting out of class to go watch the launch. The entire school was in the auditorium with it being projected on a giant screen. I was only in the third grade, and it was the first time that I had ever seen a launch. I thought that the explosion was supposed to happen, and I remember looking for that little piece that flies off when the shuttle separates. The tape stopped immediately, and the teachers had to explain what had happened. It was so horrible. I remember that was the first time I ever cried for someone I didn't know.

From: Chelle

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