Thursday, May 19, 2005

We Were Merely Freshmen

On January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing everyone aboard. The country was shocked, as it watched the scene play itself out endlessly on television. The news most focused on Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher and the first private citizen to fly on a space shuttle. It was a national tragedy.

Very shortly after the accident, my roommate went to the campus store, and bought a giant poster of a space shuttle. With an exacto knife, he cut the shuttle out. We hung the poster with its gaping hole on our door. As for the space shuttle, we ripped it into little pieces, taping some onto the walls, and most onto the ceiling. A few of the pieces we made into a mobile that hung from the light fixture centered in the room.

2 comments:

kat said...

i saw it. our entire school would huddle together on the playground facing the northeastern sky, and watch each and every shuttle launch. this one, in particular, was special because we had studied the mission and the crew for two weeks leading up to the launch, practicing our newly formed reading and writing skills on simplistic articles and essays.

after the explosion, we were all sent home, and for weeks afterwards, grief counselors were on standby at Jensen Beach Elementary School.

Mary P. said...

I saw it, too. My eldest child had just been born, so there I sat with my newborn cradled in my arms, and saw those poor people vanish.

I heard later that the problem with the "O-rings" was small and avoidable, and the error had probably been made because the schedules of scientists and technicians on the ground had kept them chronically sleep-deprived for a long time prior to lift-off. Too tired to think straight, and a tragedy occurs.