Thursday, January 26, 2006

Remembering those lost explorers

It was 20 years ago that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up as it ascended into the sky. I remember that I was in the library with a classmate (who was called Bobby Brady until about 5th grade, when he started going by the more mature Robert Brady, largely because he wanted not to be taunted about it) to do a report on some topic that I can't even remember. A librarian told us that Challenger was gone. We could not absorb it fully. After all, we were born after the lunar landing and the Apollo 13 almost disaster. We witnessed as tots the flawless flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. We even saw Challenger's first flight. It never occurred to us that of NASA's missions would fail.

And it never occurred to us that anyone would die.

Die they did, and we learned real quick that this space business was serious and that it was not like on Star Trek or Star Wars even.

The event was made all the more poignant because a teacher died. She was not military and she surely was not obscure by the time she boarded Challenger. Her name was Christa McAuliffe and she was living out a teacher's dream.

Let us all take a moment to remember them on Jan. 28th:
Commander Dick Scobee
Pilot Mike Smith
Astronaut Ellison Onizuka
Astronaut Judy Resnik
Astronaut Ron McNair
Astronaut Greg Jarvis
Teacher Christa McAuliffe

NASA will be holding a Day of Rememberance for the Challenger crew as well as for the Apollo I crew and the Columbia Crew.

Here are some articles marking the 20th anniversary:
  • Remembering Challenger 20 Years Later
  • NASA's account of the Challenger accident is here.
  • An update on Barbara Morgan, Christa McAuliffe's understudy is found here.

    I think that one of the casualties of the Apollo I, Virgil "Gus" Grissom said it best in regards to space flight and disaster:

    "If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business and we hope
    that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of
    space is worth the risk of life."

    -Virgil I. Grissom, after the Gemini 3 mission, March 1965

1 comment:

  1. I think Ron McNair was the first astronaut to play a musical instruemtn in space, the saxophone. NASA does not seem to promote that fact though. NASA is horrible in my opinion at making themselves exciting. I think that is because it is populated with a bunch of engineers.