by: Gretchen B-L
Death on the Challenger
This was the headline on almost all of the nation’s newspapers on January 28th, 1986. The Challenger was launched at about 11:30 eastern time not even five miles from Merritt Island in Florida along the coast of the North Atlantic. Exactly seventy four seconds after the Challenger left the launch pad in a cloud of smoke, it exploded, killing it’s seven crew members who were aboard, including the “first Teacher in Space” Mrs. Christa McAuliffe. Other crew members included S. Onizuka, Michael J. Smith, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Judith A. Resnik. The Astronauts boarded the Shuttle with smiles, laughs, and good wishes, but little did they know that they would not be setting foot back on the Earth.
The Shuttle itself was the second launch of fifteen in that four-year period, an ambitious plan from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Not to mention that just 19 years before the Challenger explosion, on January 27th, three Apollo astronauts were killed on the launch pad. This was the first heart-wrenching tragedy.
On the day that it launched at Concord High School, New Hampshire, the school where Christa taught law and social studies, the students and faculty, along with family, friends and coworkers, counted down with the television as their teacher was launched into space, cheering and blowing into noisemakers. Then it calmed into a deafening silence as the people gathered watched the Challenger explode before their very eyes.\