Webconsuls Blog

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering the Challenger 1986 and More

The crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-51-L pos...Image via Wikipedia
This past week has been filled with historic anniversaries like President John F. Kennedy's 1961 Inaugural Address and while this is a business blog, I think it is important to sometimes stop and remember the impact of these significant events. When I talk of impact I am not just talking about personal memories, but also how events shape our creativity and spark our willingness to take a chance. In today's world it appears we don't really have to rely on our personal memories or historical facts. Easy enough to "Google it" or search Wikipedia, as our brains have become cluttered with usernames and passwords.

I have written previously about my memory of Man's Walk on the Moon. It was a great day for Americans, important for all mankind, but we should today stop to remember a cold winter day, January 28, 1986, when we watched live as the Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral.

People of my generation were raised on the space program. It is our program. From the very early days families were committed to watching each endeavor on television. We were deeply saddened, horrified even, when on January 27, 1967 (44 years ago yesterday), the crew of Apollo 1 died in a cabin fire during a pre-launch test.

So it was on January 28, 1986, I was living and working in Conway, New Hampshire, and we were all excited that Christa McAuliffe of Concord, NH, was chosen to be the NASA's Teacher in Space.  I for sure was going to watch the lift off.  It was a Tuesday; I believe NASA may have decided to plan this take-off to occur on a school day so that students throughout the nation could watch the event on live TV (CNN).  We had an old black and white television in our work lunch room. At about 11:00AM I walked downstairs and took a seat with my co-workers. There was a lot of excitement in the air. The news cameras actively panned the public observers at Cape Canaveral, including Christa's parents. And as we all watched the final countdown and lift-off the cameras panned back to the crowd and then we knew by the look on Christa's parents' faces something was terribly wrong. The trail in the sky was not normal...and they were gone.

In shock, we continued to watch CNN for a while longer. I reached for the phone and called Dennis. He was watching at home. I went back to my office and throughout the day my co-workers and I took turns monitoring CNN's coverage. And so the day went.

This February 1st we will stop to remember the 8th Anniversary of the Columbia disaster. Yes, I was watching live coverage on that Saturday morning, too. Like I said this is our program and it came to be because of a young president's challenge 50 years ago.

25 years...hard to believe. Here's to the crew: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik.

I would love for you to share your memories...


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