Challenger explodes-January 28, 1986
Sun Jan 29 23:56:31 EST 2012
Hard to believe it's been 26 years.
I was in my office outside Chicago. Somebody heard that there was a problem
with the launch, so we found a TV to turn on. This was probably a half hour
The first shot we saw was a close-up shortly after the launch. I saw that
blowtorch of gas escaping from the SRB and figured out right away that it
was probably not the "Go for Throttle-Up" command that doomed the mission
and the people aboard.
Then we saw a replay of the panoramic view of the explosion with the SRBs
heading off on their own, and I thought "Oh my God, this is the 'Teacher In
Space' launch. There are children watching this." I developed an instant
appreciation for the situation the teachers were in.
This was a moment for a President to bring the nation together, and Reagan
did it well. That night was to be a triumphant State of the Union address,
but he postponed that, and simply spoke from the Oval Office in words
crafted beautifully by Peggy Noonan, concluding with the obvious words from
John Gillespie, Jr.'s "High Flight."
But in the end, it turned out to be all about hubris.
Godspeed, Sharon Christa McAuliffe.
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