The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Remembering Challenger

Here we are in the second of a three part series. I would almost say everyone remembers this, but there are young people who were too young or not even born at the time.

On January 28th, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke up and was destroyed 73 seconds after liftoff. The culprit turned out to be gas escaping through an O ring in the solid rocket boosters. The Shuttle itself did not explode, but was broken up by large g-forces as the solid rocket booster ruptured the external tank.

I remember this one…I was a senior in high school. A few years earlier, a joke made the rounds about the Space Shuttle exploding. I can’t remember the punch line. When someone told me the Shuttle exploded, I thought it was the joke and was waiting for that punch line. It never came.

I was a lazy senior who managed to schedule all my classes in the morning (and pretty much convinced everyone I should not be forced to stay in study hall all afternoon..yeah, I skipped a LOT of school that year) so I went home and watched television coverage until basketball practice. They played it over and over so many times that I still hold my breath when I hear the “Go with throttle up” (the last transmission from mission control) watching shuttle launches today

The mission was the first teacher in space mission. Christa Mcauliffe’s launch gave the mission a higher profile than normal.

Challenger is an event for people of a certain age…it is the “Where were you when…” for my generation. I remember the hallway I was walking down when I heard and the classmate who told me. I will not forget.

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January 28, 2009 - Posted by | NASA

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