I Remember Challenger

Probably the most memorable moment of the 80s occurred on January 28, 1986. At about 73 seconds into it's ninth launch, the space shuttle Challenger exploded in full view of the people watching on the ground and on TV. The O-rings, a set of gaskets that sealed the joints between the rocket booster sections failed due to being exposed to cold weather. The twin booster rockets separated and flew off, the shuttle cabin separated and fell ten miles into the ocean. All seven members of the shuttle crew died. After the explosion, shuttle flights were delayed until 1988, and NASA announced civilians would no longer be allowed on shuttle flights (though civilians have been in space in the nineties).

The members of the crew were: Challenger Shuttle Explosion

  • Commander Francis Scobee
  • Michael Smith
  • Ellison Onizuka
  • Ronald McNair
  • Judith Resnik
  • Gregory Jarvis
  • Christa McAuliffe

The video footage is the most haunting thing about this moment. It was played over and over again throughout the day after the explosion. The strangest part is you couldn't just see it once, it was such a shock that you could just sit transfixed by it for almost an hour at a time. I think this event for "Children of the 80s" is the equivalent to the Boomers' JFK shooting. Everyone seems to remember where they were when it occurred, and the shock is almost as severe. Tragedies have occurred before in the space program, but none quite so dramatic, and none involving civilians.

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