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

After the September 11th event, I immediately thought of how it would effect my children. I was not sure how to talk to them at first, until I remembered what my mom said to me after the Challenger Shuttle blow up in 1986. I was eating lunch at my Elementary School where the teachers thought it would be a great idea to bring a television into the cafe and let us count down the shuttle take off. This was to be a historical event so everyone was excited! As the count down drew near the anticipation grew thick. We all began to count 10,9,8, ect. Who knew within seconds our little lives were about to change. To be honest when the shuttle blew up all I remember hearing from the adults was "Did you see that?", and "Did the shuttle just blow up?". I still did not know what had happened until I got home and my mom said "I love you".

From: La'Toya Williams

I don't remember how I felt exactly when it happened because I was young and didn't know. But now, I am 22 and the hurt is still there like it happened yesterday. Those seven brave people died doing what they wanted to do...touch the stars. I have been really into the space program since and I hope nothing like this will ever happen again. I don't want kids years from now to see what I saw at that age.

From: Christina Iles

I remember the explosion. I was working at Bradlees department store in Philadelphia, Pa. A bunch of us went to the Electronics department to watch the take off. At that time, who knew what was to come? I'll never forget that.

From: Tim

I was home sick with chicken pox when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. I remember I was in bed listening to the radio when they cut into the middle of a song to announce that the space shuttle blew up.. I'll never forget that day...

From: Shaun

I'll never forget the day. I was in 8th grade and less than 2 weeks away from going to Space Camp. I decided to skip school and stay at home sick. My father found out and made me go to work with him. He worked at the crew lounge in the Lockheed plant where they used to put the heat tiles on the bottom of the shuttle. I was watching the launch with everybody else. The very instant we saw the puff, everybody either jumped up or jerked about. It was the first time I had ever seen scores of grown men break down. Both of these things left a very lasting impression on me. After returning from my week at Space Camp, my whole school passed me around to talk about what the camp was like. Every time I got up in front of a class it ended up being about the Challenger. This drove the whole thing home for me, more than anything. It became the start of my cynical life.

From: Jason

The day of the Challenger crash, I was in fourth grade. My friend and I had lunch with the principal that day. It was a privelege for the "students of the month." He would buy us an ice cream and we could talk during the quiet clean up time. Anyway, it wasn't the usual fun lunch. We had not yet heard of the explosion. When we walked into his office, the radio was on. We listened in silence through out lunch to the reports. We often would watch the space shuttle take offs in elementary school. For some reason, we didn't that day. It was also my mother's birthday.

From: Melissa

I was ten when the Challenger exploded. It was such a big deal to my family because my mother was a teacher. She'd wanted to try out for the flight. We were also friends with Delaware's Teacher in Space candidate - Stephanie Wright. I remember sitting in front of the television with my sister, two feet from the screen, watching them replay the clip over and over. My mother and father stood hugging in the doorway and both were crying. I'd never seen my father cry before... Even today, as I am now a teacher myself, I remember Challenger and her crew. I educate my children on the great dreams the crew had, and how great a tragedy it was. Today, my children understand Sept. 11th and how that rocked the nation. They can also understand that in 1980, Challenger did the same.

From: Jodi Bloom

Exactly fifty days, five hours, and fifteen minutes before my twin's and my birth, the Challenger exploded. I have read many things about it, seen many shows and documentaries about it, but since I was still in my mom's womb, I never felt it. Until September 11. That's when the full effects of what a tragic event the Challenger expolsion sunk in. My tenth grade history teacher required my twin and me (since we are in the same history class) to do a newspaper report on events of the 80's. I wanted most of a to do the Challenger explosion. During my research I found out much more about the effects of this explosion and it made me break out in tears. My heart sank into my stomach. I can only imagine what it was like for those that actually saw it happen. My heart goes out to you all. Although the 1986 has been labled "The year of disasters," alot of good has come from those disasters. Without the Challengers explosion, most people wouldn't feel so close, they wouldn't respect the chances astronauts take, and they wouldn't have as much knowledge of the technologies that are behind our space advancments. Don't shun the Challenger exposion, don't feel bad and angry that it happend, instead see the good that has come from it. Don't let those who died have died in vain. A little verse that has helped me through tough times and helped me realize that life must go on, even after such tragic events as the Challenger explosion: "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak; For your work shall be rewarded."

From: Mandy Elliott

I remember that day too! I was in Kindergaten and my class went outside to watch it go up! It was a very cold day but very clear.. when it blew up, it was very scary. We just went back to our classroom and that's all I can remember.

From: Cheryl

I was 15 and in 10th grade science class when the Challenger exploded. We were watching it live because it was the first time that a teacher was part of the crew. I'll never forget the utter silence, disbelief, then numbness that filled the classroom when the Challenger exploded. It reminded me of how I felt when I came home from school one day and I learned that President Reagan was shot.

From: Rich

I remember this of the worst days of my life. I was in 8th grade and had not heard about the shuttle disaster until I walked into the lunch room and saw that there was a TV set up. A couple of my friends were telling me to go back out in the hall, that I didn't want to watch the TV. They weren't able to stop me and I sat watching the worst disaster I had ever imagined unfold before my eyes. This was an especially devastating event for me to watch, as I knew my Grandmother was standing in the bleachers with the rest of the astronaut families anxiously awaiting the take off of the Challenger. The shuttle commander for this flight was my second cousin, Francis 'Dick' Scobee. My heart broke knowing that I would never see him again, that all I had left was the memories we had shared. Even now, after 18 years, this is an emotional thing for me to think about. My daughter is doing a report on Dick for her Washington State history class and searching for the information she needs has brought all of the pain and anger back to the surface for me. It was great to stumble across this web site and see that so many people across the country were devastated at this loss of life as well as my family was.

From: Darcy

I think all those people up there are really brave. If you gave me a million dollars, I still would not go into space. Those are my comments!!!!!!!!!!

From: Kristina

I remember very vividly where I was when the Challenger exploded. I was sitting in my 6th grade classroom, waiting to go out to recess. We all decided to stay in and watch the first "Teacher in Space" go up. One of my really good friends did not want to stay in and watch. Her father had been a quarter-finalist in the competition that Christa McAuliffe eventually won. I remember all of us cheering as the Shuttle launched. Then, we all went stone silent as we watched the explosion. Tears started to flow, and jaws stayed dropped. My friend started to cry, then started to cry harder when she realized that her Daddy was *not* on that shuttle, and was still safely on the ground. That day, Mrs. Springer's 6th grade class missed recess. We missed lunch. We pretty much sat at our desks for the rest of the day in shock. Today, my 5 year old son attends school at Challenger Elementary, named in honor of the 7 souls that lost their lives in the Challenger tragedy. Every January 28 at his school, they pause for a moment of silence and remember the crew of the Challenger, and invite parents/friends who remember where they were when this all happened.

From: Jill

I was sitting in my 9th grade English class at Saugus High School when they made an announcement over the PA system. I remember the EXACT wording: "Attention students, we have some sad news to report. Shortly after takeoff, the space shuttle exploded. On a side note, there will be no salad bar in the Teacher's lounge today." I kid you not. They actually mentioned that there would be no salad bar right after the announcement that the shuttle exploded.

From: Paul Reiter

Challenger is definitely the "where were you when..." moment for my generation. Even seeing the image of the smoke on your page made my breath stick in my throat. I remember 'playing hooky' that day. I'd gone up to the bus stop and hid in the neighbors' driveway until the bus was gone and my parents had gone to work. Then I went back home and played video games all morning. Around noon, I sat down on the couch with a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup and turned on the TV. I was immediately greeted by a replay of the launch. I had always been a big shuttle fan and had the schedule just about memorized, and I mentally kicked myself for forgetting that it was going up that day. They were narrating the replay in a terrible, somber tone of voice. I remember thinking, "Wait, this was supposed to have happened like an hour ago. I wonder if something went wrong?" When they showed the breakup, I lay down and cried. I never did finish that bowl of soup.

From: Tim

I remember being at the launch site on that horrible day. It was very tragic. It was only a few seconds after being lifted off the ground that that the Challenger exploded. I will never forget that awful day. It will stick with me. God speed.

From: Jonny

I was a teacher for the first grade in a Catholic school at the time. We had gathered all of our students together to watch the shuttle go up. It was exciting news that a teacher was going into space. As we were all watching this excitful event it all the sudden exploded. The gym was quiet as everyone realized what had happened. The kids were having trouble understanding what had happened. And we realized the tragic event.

From: Cynthia Mayba

I remember sneaking out of class by saying I had to go to the br and went to the ball field instead so I could watch the shuttle go up. I had seen almost every one that had gone up. I knew something bad had happened but when I went back to class no one would believe me that the shuttle had blown up. They said I was horrible for saying that until the principal made an announcment that the shuttle had had a major malfunction and that we should have moment of silence for the astronauts and their families. That is the one memory of my senior year that I wish I could say never happened. Till this day I still try to see each launch of the shuttle and remember that day when I see it go.


I remember well where I was that day! It was just like when JFK was shot -- everyone old enough at that time remembers exactly where they were. It's like you enter a time warp and everything slows down. I was working and had been in a meeting, but had left the meeting to do some computer work. I worked in a residential treatment facility for adolescents and there was a special ed school in the building. All the students and teachers were sitting in the group room, waiting and watching for the Challenger to lift off. The teachers were so excited because Christa McAuliffe was on board, and she was from NH.....and we were in NH! As I stood there watching with them, that moment came when you knew something was terribly wrong, but you wouldn't let your eyes or your mind believe it. No, it couldn't be happening! I was devastated. I interrupted the meeting to tell them what had happened. Everyone left the meeting so we could watch the television. Teachers, children, staff members and supervisors were so shocked and yes, crying. It was a very difficult time. Then I called my husband at work, and that's when I broke down, crying. He had not heard the news yet. Not only was it so devastating because these people were all killed in what should have been a glorious event, but there was Christa, the first teacher to be in space, gone forever, and my sister-in-law, at that time helped train astronauts and had met them all, and knew some of them very well. My heart cried for her and my brother as I knew how their heart was breaking, too. As I write this today, so many years later, I just heard yesterday that they have chosen another teacher....finally, to go in space. So many years have gone by, but Christa's then backup, now 50, will be going into space. Through every horrible accident or catastrophic event, at least there is much to be learned from it....and we did learn a lot from that launch. But that will never bring back those wonderful and brave people we lost so long ago. But they certainly got their ride into space....eternal space/life and I know they are always looking down on every launch since theirs to make sure everything is in place.

From: Ann Dorries Prosek

I remember watching the Challenger on tv. Back then, it seems, every space shuttle launch was spectacular. My son, who was 5 months old, was taking a nap. I was trying to clean the house while he slept and had stopped to watch the launch as it came on. I remember once it exploded, having a terribly sad feeling, and I think I stood there for several moments trying to realize what was happening and hoping against hope that it wasn't true. To this day, it's as tragic to me as any other disaster.

From: Jean Robor

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