1986: When My Faith in Space Exploration Died. The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.

Necola Tull By Necola Tull, 15th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1swi_syp/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Science

I love the exploration of new things to an extent. I'm a great fan of Science Fiction more so than Science itself. I think now as an adult, I lean more to the side of conservative when it comes to space exploration, and all that NASA stands for. We have lost much more than what we supposedly gained with the space program. It's not worth it.

Today I Think I'll Take A Ride Into Space.

I was 16 years old. There wasn't any school that day and I don't remember why school was out. I do remember sitting on the couch in the living room of my childhood home that I was born and raised in. My grandma and I were watching television. I was the oldest of five kids that my grandparents were taking care of. I was also the only one that enjoyed staying inside rather than going outside with the other kids to play. So, I was right there with my eyes glued on the TV. The regular programming was being interrupted because history was about to be made in regards to NASA's space program. For the first time ever, a teacher was awarded the opportunity to go up into space with the astronauts. It was something sort of exciting to watch. A lot of fuss was being made about NASA's decision to take a civilian into space - and rightly so.

Did That Really Happen?

I may never forget the teacher's name, Christa Mcauliffe, or the look of excitement and joy on her face as she waved to onlookers before she boarded the shuttle -- the Space Shuttle Challenger. They showed her classroom as her students were watching the TV screen anxiously. They showed family members outside awaiting the launch. Then finally - lift off. The launching was being broadcasted live. I sat there on the couch listening to the countdown, and watching the glistening, proud faces of Christa's parents. It was something special to see. The lift off was phenomenal and beautiful. I watched as Challenger was completely free of the launching pad. The crowd was elated, but the shouts of joy and happiness were brief. They were soon replaced with dismay, shock, disbelief, and SHOCK!! The shuttle exploded right before our very eyes. In a matter of seconds I saw white smoke, flashes of fire, and parts of the shuttle scattering from the blast. The shuttle just fell to pieces--literally. I simply couldn't believe it had happened.

What Might Have Been.

A space shuttle just exploded in air on national TV. I was actually witnessing the death of seven people on live television. SHOCK!!! There aren't too many words to describe what I had witnessed on that day off from school in 1986. For days I wanted to believe that NASA would find them alive because they may have escaped on parachutes. I wouldn't believe it for nothing in this world. They couldn't have just died in an explosion I saw on television. For some reason I held out hope. I watched the news coverage like a hawk for days on end, but no survivors were ever discovered. It still didn't feel right or true. It was a feeling of numbness, disbelief and total shock.

NASA scrambled to find out what had happened -- what went wrong, etc.. President Ronald Reagan addressed the grieving family members at a memorial for the astronauts and astronaut/teacher. Of course I cried; it was hard not to. The cameras would pan out to the seats where the families sat. Camera shots of people were taken all over, as one or two would jump back on the President for a moment. People were still numb and in a trance of disbelief. How could I have known that? Well, it was all over their faces, and I was feeling the same way. I still can't believe I saw what I saw on that day.

Lives Sacrificed After the First Step.

I was reminded of the Challenger disaster ( as the media called it), from the premieres of a made for television movie about the explosion that will be airing this Saturday night, the16th on Discovery and the Science channel. I have planned to watch it even though I lived it when it actually happened. NASA was in a dire panic then. I remember during the investigation something about a screw or something that was thought to be the cause of the explosion. I don't remember much of that part because---because it didn't matter to me. None of the reasons or strategies, excuses, suggestions or theories would bring any of the Challenger victims back. I know I can just Google the disaster now and find out what was named the cause of the disaster, but I'm writing this from memory of what I saw that day. It's a genuine feeling and experience. With so many different technological advances now, I looked up the Challenger explosion online, and was amazed at how many videos and photos there were. I was actually afraid to play one of the videos taken of the event back in 1986. I became flooded with such emotion that I found myself back in time 27 years ago experiencing it all over again.
After the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, I knew from then on I would have very little belief in our (U.S) space program as being worth it all. And then..it happened again in 2003; the Columbia shuttle exploded killing all aboard.


Challenger, Christa Mcauliffee, Disaster, Explosion, Nasa, Science, Space, Space Exploration, Space Shuttle, Space Travel, Teacher

Meet the author

author avatar Necola Tull
I am a mother of two with a deep passion for writing. I like writing creative short stories and poetry. I am also a freelance writer. I write, SEO, articles blogs and more.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Nov 2013 (#)

A high price for space exploration, to be sure. I remember both disasters.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
16th Nov 2013 (#)

Nice post

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author avatar Necola Tull
17th Nov 2013 (#)

Thank you. I'm watching the program now on the Discovery channel. I found myself crying again after seeing the crash.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
26th Aug 2014 (#)

Necola, thanks for sharing a great article. I remember these disasters like they were yesterday. It was such a sad time for all of us. I do not believe I will ever forget.

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author avatar Yvon
26th Jan 2015 (#)

We walked on the moon in 1969 and, today, we can't even lift-off without blowing up with all of today's technology. Amazing, isn't it?...Great piece. You're a fantastic writer.

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author avatar Necola Tull
26th Jan 2015 (#)

Thank you very much. You just brightened my day.
Yeah, I was born the day after the walk on the moon in '69. We came so far, and have lost so much.

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