Thursday’s crowd of about 500 at the Kennedy Space Center included family members of astronauts killed in all three of NASA’s spacecraft tragedies: Challenger on January 28, 1986; the shuttle Columbia’s catastrophic descent on February 1, 2003; and the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967. Those same students and teachers watched in horror as the shuttle exploded shortly thereafter. McAuliffe, who works in education technology in ME, said having his own two sons there with him – ages 6 and 8 – made it easier. He had also journeyed aboard the Challenger in 1984 as the mission’s payload specialist. The lift off appeared normal until the shuttle began to careen off course and, just 73-seconds into the flight, burst into flames.
On Jan. 28, NASA and the entire country paused to one of the worst disasters in space history.
“The day after was a blur”, said Penn-Goetsch, “I was talking to a lot of media, and seeing that footage over and over and over again, it was hard”.
Accidents will continue to occur as space flight evolves, Mike Leinbach, a former NASA shuttle launch director, acknowledges.
The explosion took an immediate toll on the astronaut community, who were “very shaken” by the accident, Garneau said, despite the keen understanding of the possible dangers of space travel.
Students said it is important to remember what happened.
Investigators later concluded that was the case. Cold temperatures are believed to have factored in to the explosion as well.
“It’s nice to think that maybe in some way, we are completing the essence of what they wanted to do”, Sumners said of the Challenger astronauts.
Since the disaster, Wheeling Jesuit University was able to open their Challenger Learning Center, to gives kids in our area a hands on lesson on some of the things astronauts might experience, when they go through training.