I was out on the playground on January 28, 1986. It was my 4th grade year and I had the worst teacher of my entire scholastic career. Mrs. Hughes came out crying and we really didn't understand why as she was not the sensitive type. We walked in a neatly filed line into our classroom to find a television ready for us to see some shocking news.
As we watched the news channel, we saw the Challenger explode 73 seconds after it's take off, disintegrating into space, killing all seven crew members on board.
Even more shocking than the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up in space was the fact that there was the first female teacher ever up there. Krista McAullife was her name. She had children and a husband, which put a big lump in my throat that day. I guess I was a little closely identified to the NASA program at the time because two of my classmates throughout those years brought us on tours at Moffet Field. We were those lucky ones because my classmates' parents worked at NASA, which afforded us the opportunity to tour the site extensively each year.
I really wasn't aware of how much impact the diaster actually had, but clearly it had more ties throughout the world and even in Switzerland than my 4th grade mind could imagine. I too had no idea that the explosion of 1986 would have been caused by a design flaw that 20 years later we still do not understand. I guess my 4th grade mind never thought the space shuttle was a world endeavor until I brightened my experiences and moved to Switzerland.
Ironically, I don't remember what I was really doing the next time the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded as it was not as a dramatic of a feeling for me as it was for the experience in 4th grade. That image above is still as clear in my mind as it is in the photo above.
What were you doing, the day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded?