Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Today will be a day long remembered..."

Throughout history there have been many "unforgettable days" that have stuck in the memories of those living at the time. Unfortunately, they are usually tragedies. My mother remembers exactly where she was the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. I'm sure many of you remember, as I do, exactly where you were when the planes flew in to the World Trade Center on September 11th. But even though 9/11 is more recent and involved the loss of MANY more lives, the day that most sticks in my mind is January 28th, 1986, the day the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated (it wasn't an explosion) shortly after take off.

Maybe it's an age thing. I was in Industrial Arts class at Southampton Middle School (eleven years old). They announced the news over the loudspeaker to the entire school. My goofy little friends and I talked in the cafeteria about how the Russians must have blown it up (remember the Cold War anyone?). When I got home that day, I turned on the news. There wasn't the same amount of 24 hour TV news in the mid 80's that we have now, but there was plenty of coverage of the Space Shuttle disaster. I sat in front of the television before my sister or parents came home, and I cried. And cried, and cried...

The much talked about mission would be the first time that a teacher (Christina McAuliffe) would enter space. The launch was even broadcast live in a number of schools around the country, mostly because of McAuliffe. Seventy-three seconds after lift off, an O-ring failure in the right solid rocket booster caused the shuttle to disintigrate. The accident grounded NASA's shuttle program for thirty-two months (I won't go into more detail, you can read about it all over the internet).

I had always been fascinated by science, but space in particular really captured my imagination. I know that sci-fi movies like Star Wars were part of this fascination (the title of this blog is a quote from Darth Vader...yes, I'm that dork), but NASA played a big role as well. I dreamed every night of one day becoming an astronaut and traveling into space on some grand adventure (of course I could never be bothered to apply myself in school enough to reach this dream). The news of the accident devastated me.

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of "that day". I am still fascinated by science, and frequently look through a telescope into the night sky. I follow the discovery of new planets and galaxies on the internet (not really cool enough for televised news anymore for some reason) and have passed that love on to my son. He sometimes talks about going into space "when he grows up". When he talks about it, I can feel a big smile come across my face. And my eyes get a little misty as I remember the Challenger Mission. I will never forget it.

1 comment:

  1. I was 12, and utterly obsessed with space exploration ... I shan't forget it either ...