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Space Shuttle Challenger, 20 years after

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#1 of 35 OFFLINE   James L White

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Posted January 28 2006 - 07:15 AM

Has it really been 20 years? Posted Image
I was in 3rd grade watching on TV
it was shocking to say the least
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#2 of 35 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr



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Posted January 28 2006 - 07:24 AM

Junior in high school in my computer class (long live IBM RPG II!) when the principal made the announcement over the school's public address system. I can still remember my teacher turning ash white.

#3 of 35 OFFLINE   mark alan

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Posted January 28 2006 - 08:12 AM

Junior in college in an electrical engineering course. Somebody came and announced the shuttle had just exploded. Once we realized he wasn't joking, the professor cancelled class. Probably the most shocking news moment since Kennedy. Then the most shocking until Sept. 11.

#4 of 35 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted January 28 2006 - 08:24 AM

Senior year in high school, fourth period. Art class. I distinctly remember hearing the news from the PA system, and the shocked silence the settled on the class. I didn't see footage until I got home that afternoon. TVs with any reception, let alone cable, were very rare in those days (VCRs were still slowly taking over for projectors).
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#5 of 35 Guest_Eric Kahn_*

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Posted January 28 2006 - 08:36 AM

I was driving a truck in rural indiana during a snowstorm when I heard it on the radio

#6 of 35 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted January 28 2006 - 09:07 AM

i was in the 4th grade math class (actually IN 3rd grade, i used to skip ahead for math and science), and we were watching it on tv. nobody could believe what was happening, it was the only time i saw a teacher cry. i was a little too young to realize how serious it was, but i knew it was a horrible disaster. CJ
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#7 of 35 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted January 28 2006 - 09:10 AM

Today my local radio station had the usual item about the 20th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy.The young newsreader also mentioned Christa McAuliffe by name, at least three times. Sadly, the name was pronounced McAwful.
This sort of thing is all to common at that station. They seem to actively avoid hiring anyone who can read & talk at the same time.

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#8 of 35 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted January 28 2006 - 09:59 AM

I was working for someone running a business out of his home who said, "Gee, that's too bad", made us turn off the radio, and asked if we could work late that evening. It was also the day I got my hearing back following reconstructive middle-ear surgery.
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#9 of 35 OFFLINE   Holadem


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Posted January 28 2006 - 11:17 AM

What elevates this tragedy beyond most others, before or since, in the national consciousness? Would someone please provide some context? -- H

#10 of 35 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted January 28 2006 - 11:25 AM

I was a Sophomore in high school. I still remember the announcement. The other day I read an interesting fact regarding the disaster. It's often said that millions of people watched the tragedy happen on live TV. In reality, all the major network newscasts had already cut away BEFORE the shuttle exploded (CNN continued live coverage). NASA had arranged for satellite broadcast to many schools, but the general public did not have access (unless they had one of those huge dishes). What many people recall seeing as a 'live broadcast' was really taped replays soon after the accident.

#11 of 35 OFFLINE   Kevin Hewell

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Posted January 28 2006 - 11:33 AM

I think for people of a certain age it was the first news item where we all can remember where we were when we first heard the news. Much like Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assasination had done for previous generations.

#12 of 35 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted January 28 2006 - 11:43 AM

I agree with Kevin, but also would like to add: At the time the shuttle Challenger exploded, shuttle launches were considered a no-news item by the general public. This Challenger flight was the 25th launch of a Space Shuttle and the whole thing became routine to the general public and news media. In the early days of the Shuttle program, each launch was extensively covered by the news organizations. By the time Challenger flew in 1986, Shuttle launches were hardly front page news. But because this flight included the 'first teacher in space', it was heavily promoted by NASA and covered by the media. It was big news weeks and months before the launch. So even though many people didn't see it live, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the general public was interested in this flight. Had Christa McAuliffe not been aboard this Shuttle, and it had been a 'regular' shuttle crew, I don't know if the tragedy would resonate with everyone the way it does now. Case in point, Columbia. I don't think the Columbia tragedy will reach the same level in the 'national consciousness' as Challenger. Partly because it wasn't the first shuttle loss (hence less shock) and also because of it's 'regular' crew.

#13 of 35 OFFLINE   Phil_L


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Posted January 28 2006 - 12:23 PM

3rd grade. I was home sick from school and saw the news report on Channel 10 here in Providence on an old B&W tv in my room. I ran downstairs to tell my mom and she didn't believe me until she turned on the tv herself. I was a huge fan of the space program, even at that age, and a big astronomy buff. It hit me really hard. I remember visiting Kennedy Space Center years later as a senior in HS and getting very choked up at the memorial. Still gets me sad to think about it.

#14 of 35 OFFLINE   David Williams

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Posted January 28 2006 - 12:35 PM

I lived in Anchorage at the time and was in the fourth grade. I still remember seeing the shuttle blow up on the TV screen my teacher had brought in to show the class (she was taping it to show, since it happened just before or at the time school started due to the time difference). I had gotten to school a few minutes early, due to the fact that I walked and we were having a rare tropical storm.
It was a huge news story leading up to the launch, because Mrs. McAuliffe was going to be the first civilian in space. I think a lot of people subconciously look at the astronauts knowing the risks of space travel and they sign up for it, but she had won the right to be the first civilian in space... it wasn't her calling in life . It was just me and my teacher watching the broadcast and we were both excited until the explosion. My teacher could hardly hold back her tears as she shut off the TV. When class started she told everyone what had happened but didn't show the tape.
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#15 of 35 OFFLINE   RichardK


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Posted January 28 2006 - 12:41 PM

I was in 6th grade, we tuned in during, ironically, History class

#16 of 35 OFFLINE   mark alan

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Posted January 28 2006 - 01:27 PM

My first memory, at the age of 4 was the first moon landing. The american space program, for 30 years, was probably the most visible image of american power, and demonstrated what was best about america. We projected the image that we could do anything, and that the people running NASA were smarter, better, and more perfect than anyone, anywhere. In one instant, that image was shattered. NASA is now seen as a typical bumbling bureaucracy, no longer capable of great things. It is a shame, as that image is no more true than the earlier image. But everything changed after the challenger explosion. You can see the change in the reaction to the second shuttle loss. While it was a terrible accident, there was no shock, and it did not resonate with people.

#17 of 35 OFFLINE   DanielKellmii


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Posted January 28 2006 - 03:08 PM

I was a senior in high school in Florida. The was near Ft. Lauderdale. You could go outside and see that it didn't look right.
At that time, the American public didn't want to acknowledge how dangerous space flight was. NASA billed the Shuttle as a space truck that would make space flight routine. That has never happened. Now NASA is generally an outsourcing organization. Most people actually work for something called 'United Space Alliance.' Which pays good engineers poorly, but reminds them of the privilage of working on the space program constantly. I have done some engineeering work on the Shuttle Turbo Pumps. What a horror. 90% crytic paper work and 10% cryptic analysis. But, as with all bureaucracies, it keeps people employeed and pays the mortgage.

#18 of 35 OFFLINE   Holadem


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Posted January 28 2006 - 03:10 PM

Thanks for the clarifications. I didn't know about the teacher and corresponding media frenzy. Certainly explains the countless accounts of watching it live in a classroom. -- H

#19 of 35 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted January 28 2006 - 04:26 PM

That was freshman year in college, I had just gotten out of class, some friends and I walked by the student center and it was abuzzed by people watching the TV in one of the corner lounge areas, and all I can remember was everyone staring at the TV, in shock at the news reports and footage, and lot of OMGs were muttered. I don't remember getting back to my dorm, which was a good 10-15 minute walk, I was dazed as I walked the entire way to my dorm. My dorm hallmates were collectively incredulous by the event, many wondering how this could happen?
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#20 of 35 OFFLINE   Alex-C



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Posted January 28 2006 - 07:01 PM

Holy Moly ! I was in my sophmore H.S. computer class which was the one of the only classes that had a television with cable hookup so we watched the after math. My computer teacher who was kind of a techy, NASA guy was really really affected. we just discussed it for the entire period. Very tragic and in a very slight way, sort of my generation's Kennedy assasination. What I mean by that is, many of my friends remember exactly where they were and what they were doing and how they were affected by it.
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