I can't believe that 25 years ago today, we were mourning the loss of the seven crew members of the Challenger space shuttle.
I remember being in fifth grade at the time and having some sixth grader pop his head in the door of our classroom in Bristol, CT, and informing us that the space shuttle had exploded. And later, at my karate class, nobody was practicing kicks or blocks or even sparring. Instead, everyone was sitting around a little 13-inch television watching the news coverage the entire class. How could you not? This was the most emotionally jarred my generation had ever been.
However, I was a fan of the NASA space program. I had personally witnessed the launch of the first space shuttle with a female astronaut -- Sally Ride -- with my family and my grandparents. Even from as far away as we were, it was pretty cool. I was a kid. Star Wars was my life. So the idea that I was watching someone blast off into what I could only imagine as a galaxy far, far away was about the closest thing to childhood nirvana that I could get. Like most kids, I longed to be an astronaut.
Then hearing about this, a tragedy in my beloved space program, just changed everything. As a kid, it was the first evidence I had seen of a chink in the armor, a flaw in the perfection that was humans in space. There was inherent danger in it, other than possibly meeting up with violence-prone alien cultures. Thinking about it now, I'm pretty sure that was the first time I no longer considered being an astronaut as a career path. I, like many Americans, lost interest in space and shuttle launches. The excitement was gone.
Looking back, it's sad that I allowed my faith in the space program to be shaken so dramatically. How could you not, though?
But this being the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, I'd like to close by remembering:
(back row, left to right) Mission Specialist and USAF Lt. Col. Ellison S. Onizuka, Elementary School Teacher S. Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, Mission Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, and Mission Specialist Dr. Judith A. Resnick
(front row, left to right) Pilot and USN Capt. Michael J. Smith, Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, and Mission Specialist Dr. Ronald E. McNair
Rest in Peace
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