Memories of the Challenger

This is one page of many, check out the intro at I Remember Challenger for others.

This page currently edited by: Dagwood. Past editor: Junior

I was in 6th grade when it happened and I remember standing on the steps outside my classroom listening to my teachers talk about the Challenger had just exploded in mid air.

From: Dina Nejman

I was in the fifth grade. Like another poster, a teacher from my school had been an "applicant" to the teacher in space program. We were watching the launch on television in our classroom. To this day, whenever I see a replay of the explosion, or a picture of the Challenger &, I tear up. It was such a senseless tragedy. The thing that stuck with me most was my teacher, not seconds after the explosion, turned off the television, turned to the class, and said, "If they asked for another teacher tomorrow - i would be first in line." He was saying in the face of tragedy, never lose hope. As a 9 year old, I didn't understand that. But as a 23 year old EMT, soon to be a nurse, I not only understand his words, but feel them.

From: G.

I was only six years old when I heard about the disaster. I was sitting at my desk in school when my teacher entered the room, crying tears of sorrow. She pulled a television into the room and we all watched, over and over the horrible sight. I was very young, yet I still understood the magnitude of this tragedy. It was a horrible day.

From: Kenny A. Archer, Jr.

I was in 4th Grade at the time and I came from a small school where 1-5 consisted of about 75-90 kids. That day they brought us all into the library to watch the shuttle take off. We had two TV's one on either side of the room so everyone could see. We were normal kids we were joking around and talking, not really paying attention. Then the count down came and we were glued to the TV. We watched in amazement as the shuttle shot into the air. As little kids we hadn't realized what had happened. You see I'm from upstate New York, and up here you don't see many shuttle launches were I lived back then. We thought it was a normal launch until our teachers explained to us what had happened. Soon most of us were crying and I remember they sent the school district home early that day and I remember as we were getting on the busses to leave I remember my best friend turning to me and saying, "The first thing I did this morning was wish for a day off from school, what a way to get a wish..."

From: Christopher Wolcott

I was nearly 5 years old, sitting on the floor of my grandparents sunroom playing with blocks. I had the TV on channel 4 (NBC here in New York), and I just remember seeing a big mess of smoke, and I saw a flash of orange...and I didn't know what it was. I also remember watching the memorial services for the astronauts televised on CNN...and I didn't put it together. A couple of years later I found out the whole explanation for what went on that day (on an episode of Punky Brewster, no less) and it just ripped me apart. Last year, when I took my Regents examination in English, the listening comprehension passage was a speech, given by Christa McAuliffe's mother, to the graduating class of UVA. Last week when school ended for spring break, I found out that I am recieving the Christa McAuliffe scholarship...I guess this tragedy has just been following me around...the images still haunt me to this day.

From: Jamie D. Fee

I was at primary school when this tragedy occured. We were doing a project about space which involved making prototype self-maintaining capsuals for humans and listening to David Bowie Major Tom song. What upset me the most was the fact that their family and loved ones were there to see them disappear forever. I have often thought of them and I am glad to be able to add to this page. Thank you.

From: Chloe Biggins

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was only about 6-7 years old, in 4th grade. My teacher had brought in a tv for all of us to watch. I remember the excitment that rushed through me as we were doing the countdown. All eyes were glued to the tv when sudenly, we saw it explode. We weren't sure if that was supposed to happen, being only six, so some of us were like "cool, wow...etc." But I knew, it wasn't supposed to happen like that. Sounds of excitment were soon taken over by silence, total silence. It was crazy...something I know I will never forget ever. (San Diego, CA.)

From: Angelina M.

28th January 1986 - A Tragedy for the World I am from the UK and I remember rushing back from my local post office after posting birthday gifts to a pen-friend that lived in New Paltz, NY. I have always been a bit of an armchair astronaut and was really excited about another shuttle launch. I knew the routine pretty well and was explaining to a couple of friends the procedure the astronauts went through after launch. I heard the command "Go with throttle up." and was about to tell the guy next to me what was about to happen when the shuttle exploded. All of us in the room were stunned. None of us could actually believe what we were seeing. Now each January when I am reminded of the date or whenever I watch a shuttle launch, I cannot help but think about the tragic loss of those seven brave people fulfilling their dreams. The only thing that has affected me in quite the same way was the death of The Princess of Wales in 1997.

From: Ray Penn

I was seven years old. Christa McAuliffe was my idol and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. My second grade class was supposed to watch the Challenger and Christa's broadcasts on a television right in our classroom. This was not just big--it was HUGE. I remember that fated day, January 28, 1986 when my teacher silently removed the TV from the classroom. When I got home from school I found my mother watching a special newscast. I remember sinking helplessly onto the couch, with tears streaming down my face, as I witnessed the Challenger explosion. I was only seven years old. The entire crew was presumed dead and with them were my hopes and dreams of becoming an astronaut. Even now, whenever the Challenger is mentioned I can remember exactly how I felt that day. The incident had a huge impact on me and it is something that I will never forget.

From: Athena Vakas

I was in college watching the liftoff no-one could believe what had just happened right before our eyes.

From: Kaye

I was in 4th grade when it happened and it was extremely tragic for us because my teacher was best friends with Christa McAuliffe since they were kids. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed a whole country mourn a tragedy, and I hope to God that I will never have to again.

From: Ara Basil

I was 14 and in the 9th grade at John Glenn Jr. High School in Texas. I was reading the newspaper with a friend in Studyhall. Everyone's favorite Science teacher, Mr. Sanderford was in Florida as an invited guest to watch it lift off. A friend who worked on the school paper came by and told us the Challenger had exploded. We thought he was joking. Then the principal came over the P.A. and told us what happened. It didn't really sink in until I got home and sat with my mom and watched it on the news. We were both crying. It was truly a sad day.

From: Leah Lynch

I was five and wasn't even in school yet but I remember hearing the story about Christa. I barely remember anything before I was ten, but I still remember that twisted cloud of smoke being replayed over and over on television.

From: Manuel

I was in the 7th grade, and although I didn't see the actual explosion, what remains most vivid in my memory was the memorial for the astronauts several days afterward. I can remember thinking, "I am watching history here", and being a cool kid I tried not to get emotional. I can remember my math teacher, Mrs. Bonner, who was a very no-nonsense (read: MEAN) teacher, took us all into the science teacher's class to watch the memorial service on the TV. I glanced back at her at one point and saw silent tears streaming down her cheeks - a very emotional moment for a teacher who was generally unemotional. Seeing her cry just opened the floodgates, and I started crying right then and there.

From: Elizabeth

I was 13 and sick, home from school. I was in the middle of watching I Dream of Jeannie re-runs when a special news bulletin interrupted to show the shuttle lifting off. After the 73-second mark, I saw the shuttle explode and ran into the other room to tell my mother. I could not believe it; could not believe that the shuttle could blow up like that. It nearly destroyed my dream of going into space one day myself. I cried my eyes out at the Memorial Service that was broadcast on TV that Friday.

From: Jeff Zaben

Things that bring it back to you: In 1995 I was living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The Wallops Island NASA base is there. One morning I was at work at the small hospital there and we all went out to the parking lot to watch an unmanned rocket being launched from Wallops. We all had our car radios turned up for the countdown. As it went up, after about 13 seconds, we watched as the rocket split into three pieces and was very eerie, and brought the entire Challenger explosion back to my mind. "at T plus 13 seconds, we have vehicle failure...."

From: kal

I was 24 years old in 1986 when the space shuttle exploaded. I was serving in the Navy on a submarine in Charleston S.C. At lunch time we went to the mess deck and the T.V. was on, which it is never on when we are in port which we were, and it was showing the shuttle taking off. It watched it take off and it exploded. I was in shock. My friend was there and said "I watched it a dozen times and I still can't believe it." We were ordered to get the sub ready to go to sea and we went off the coast of Fla. And banged with our SONAR for two weeks looking for big parts of the shuttle. We found some. It was a very depressing experiance.

From: Tom

I was six years old when the Challenger exploded and I remember it like it was yesterday. Everytime a shuttle would go up my mom would sit my sister and I down in front of the TV with a piece of cheese to eat and we would watch it go up to space. The day the Challenger was to go up was a special day because my mom kept telling me that a woman teacher was going to go up in space. I had just gotten home from morning kindergarden and sat down to watch it. When it exploded I couldn't comprehend what had just happened. My mom started crying and immediatly called my grandmother who was also crying. I just remember being really sad.

From: Lisa

I was in elementary school, all I could think of that day was how cool it must be to ride into space on a rocket. I will never forget, I was doing English, page 46 of my book when a teacher I did not like came in and said that the Shuttle had blown up. We are all mortal.

From: Martino in Pa

I have only a vague memory of the day the Challenger exploded. I was only five; our teacher had brought a TV into our kindergarten class to watch the shuttle lift off. I remember all the excitement, since we had all recently decided to become teacher/astronauts because of Christa. Then I remember the intense sadness the rest of the day because of all the smoke around the shuttle and people dying. It's all pretty vague, but that heavy sadness stands out to this day.

From: Mandy

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