It’s one of those moments seared into memory like the Kennedy Assassination and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. A blink in history so intense it will never be forgotten. Twenty-five years ago I was sitting in my cubicle in Raleigh, NC. I was early in my engineering career and life was good. I never missed a launch if I didn’t have to and that morning was no exception. Space flight had become routine and there was very little live coverage that morning. I was listening to coverage on the radio. The last transmission was Commander Dick Scobee’s “Roger, go at throttle up.” At 11:38 a.m., EST, Challenger disintegrated over the Atlantic.
That evening, President Ronald Reagan addressed a country in mourning. He was scheduled to give his State of the Union address, but on the heels of this crisis, pushed it into the next week. He closed his speech that night with portions of the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.:
“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.”
So today we remember the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger.
Commander – Francis “Dick” Scobee
Pilot – Michael J. Smith
Mission Specialist – Ellison Onizuka
Mission Specialist – Judith Resnik
Mission Specialist – Ronald McNair
Payload Specialist – Gregory Jarvis
Payload Specialist – Sharon Christa McAuliffe
“The Shuttle is to space flight what Lindbergh was to commercial aviation.”
~Arthur C. Clarke