Friday, January 27, 2006

Challenger Anniversary

Space Shuttle Mission 51-L lifted off from Pad B at Cape Canaveral at 11:38 am Eastern, twenty years ago tomorrow, January 28, 1986. It was the 25th Shuttle launch, the 10th for Challenger (OV-099). Challenger had made 987 orbits of the earth and spent 69 days in space in her first nine flights. On board were Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Sharon Christa McAuliffe. The mission ended in a fireball 46,000 feet above the Atlantic, 73 seconds into the flight.

I didn't hear what had happened for several hours, though I did notice while on a bike ride that day climbing Lake Jennings Park Road outside Lakeside, CA that flags were flying at half staff at the county facility at the side of the road. I didn't own a TV, so at about 6pm I listened to NPR and heard the news. I knocked on my neighbor's door and asked to watch the 6 o'clock news with them where I saw the video for the first time.

That night President Reagan got it right when he quoted John Gillespie Magee's "High Flight": "We will never forget them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

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