Thursday, January 28, 2016
Challenger: 30 years later
It's hard for me to believe that it's been 30 years since the Challenger was destroyed. I remember the day very well. I was home from school on a snow day. I knew that there was a space shuttle launch scheduled, but shuttle launches had become pretty routine by then. They had lost their magic. We could go into space. Big deal. I didn't watch the Challenger launch that day. I had better things to do. Most likely I was playing a game on my Commodore 64, or reading a D&D module. Important stuff.
That stuff seemed a lot less important when around noon, the phone rang. It was my grandmother, and she said, "Are you watching the television? I think the space shuttle just blew up." I thought she was kidding. She wasn't. I spent the rest of the day glued to the television. I couldn't be bothered to watch the launch, but I was unable to look away from the aftermath.
I write this now looking back at what I had come to take for granted. Today, 30 years later, we have to rely on the Russians to get us to and from the International Space Station. I was born in 1969, just before the launch of the second moon landing mission, Apollo 12. I was born into a spacefaring nation. Children born in the U.S. today can't say that, and that makes me sad.