January 28th, 1986


Today we remember the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger, Flight 51-L, lost this day 27 years ago.

Mission Commander Francis R. Scobee
Pilot Michael J. Smith
Mission Specialist 1 Ellison S. Onizuka
Mission Specialist 2 Judith A. Resnik
Mission Specialist 3 Ronald E. McNair
Payload Specialist 1 Christa McAuliffe
Payload Specialist 2 Gregory B. Jarvis

It was warm that day, as January days in Colorado go. I was only 13 then, and in the 8th grade. Before I left for school that morning, I remember hearing on the news that the Space Shuttle Challenger launch was holding due to some kind of electrical problem that I didn’t really understand.

I went through my first two classes as I would have any other day. Toward the end of the 2nd, the junior high’s assistant principal, Mr. Williams, could be heard over the PA system calling all staff and students to the gym for an assembly, stating that we’d be talking about the problem with the Shuttle.

This seemed very odd to me. Why would an electrical problem be reason to gather all 3 grades and the teachers together?

Obviously, I didn’t yet know what had happened.

The gym’s bleachers had already been opened up for us when we got there. As I recall, there were somewhere between 400 and 450 students there, but it was far too quiet for a room full of teenagers. Also out of place was the lone television sitting on its cart facing the seats.

Something wasn’t right. I got the feeling that at least some there were aware of something that I wasn’t.

After Mr. Williams began to address us with the news that Challenger had been lost with all hands, the tv was turned on. By that point, the news was just starting to sink in for me, and the video of the ship’s disintegration seemed hazy, though I could see it clearly, even sitting at a considerable distance.

We at Photos to Space also wish at this time to honor the crews of Apollo 1 (Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White), and the Space Shuttle Columbia (Rick Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon), all of which also gave their lives for the furtherment of human exploration.

Where were you that morning? Please take a moment to share your memories of that day in a comment.


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