Hey so I, and maybe some of you guys too, did not know much about the Challenger explosion that Dr. McCoy talked about on Friday. So I figured I may as well get a blog post out of it and learn a bit at the same time. In 1986 the NASA space shuttle program was still growing strong, long past the space race and the moon landing. Instead of the Apollo spacecrafts though, NASA had shifted to using space shuttles. The Challenger spacecraft itself had gone on nine missions ahead of its last on January 28, 1986. When it blasted off it was only in the air for 73 seconds before it exploded (History.com Staff).
Like Dr. McCoy said, everyone on board was killed including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. What’s actually super interesting is that she was going to teach lessons to kids all around the country from space (History.com Staff). Losing a family member who is an astronaut is hard. Losing anyone is hard, in any way. But I cannot imagine being a family member of Christa McAuliffe’s family after that explosion. It makes my heart hurt thinking about it. I always liked the idea of the space race, and space travel growing up. Seeking to learn more by leaving Earth is such a beautiful dream. Learning it all was about trying to be be better than the Soviet Union put a bit of a damper on that thought, but none the less it’s still beautiful for those who dream.
NASA ended up learning that the explosion was caused by the freezing of two O-rings that were designed to keep sections of the rocket booster separated. They had frozen because of the cold weather in the days leading up, and the day of, the launch. Engineers actually wanted to delay the launch so they could check to make sure there wouldn’t be any failure, but they were denied by superiors. President Reagan reacted like a president should, he appointed a special commission to investigate what went wrong and prevent future catastrophes from happening (History.com Staff).
My first thought when Dr. McCoy explained this tragedy to me was to compare it to 9/11. They’re both an event that is visually and emotionally etched forever in the minds of those who witnessed it, whether in person or on TV. A landmark tragedy in the eyes of America that unfortunately will survive forever.
History.com Staff. “Challenger Disaster.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/challenger-disaster.