Twenty Five years ago today, America suffered it’s second great space tragedy when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after liftoff. To all who have been touched by this remarkable event – our hearts are with you.
January 28th and I was just getting home from a double shift at my job. I was exhausted, hungry and ready for bed. Heading for the kitchen I scarfed down a quick bite and retired to the couch, looking to get a bit of rest. No sooner had I fallen asleep when my good friend John called excitedly and said, “Joe, the shuttle just exploded.” I scoffed at him, hung up the phone and went back to sleep. He called back and very calmly told me this, “Get up, turn on the TV. It doesn’t matter what channel.” He hung up.
Turning on the TV and watching the events unfold in real time was heartbreaking. The families in grief as they and the world saw their loved ones perish. The students all suddenly in shock as they watched helplessly as Christa McAuliffe, their “Teacher In Space” died before their eyes.
America was stunned.
It would take the grounding of the shuttle fleet and along investigation before all the questions would be answered. A flaw in the design and a failure of management led to the loss of Challenger with all hands. When the dust had settled, we as a nation picked ourselves up and went back to the business of getting to space.
Today we as a nation continue to strive to learn more about that magnificent desolation. Today brave men and women still push the boundaries of the final frontier. We watch in awe and dream of the day the we can go with them. Government and private enterprise, working together, are making this this a reality for us all.
This is what we must do. We owe it to our “Teacher”.