On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger burst into flames just 73 seconds after takeoff, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space.
Frozen In Time
I wasn't in
the U.S. on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, so have
no frozen-in-time memories of that day, but I remember vividly January 28,
1986. I had just dropped my two-year-old off at his babysitter's house when
I heard the news of the explosion on my car radio.
By the time I
arrived at my Santa Monica, CA, school, ten minutes later, for the opening
meeting of the new semester, we all knew that the crew of the Challenger was
dead. Our usually lively, outspoken faculty was silent. We sat in a circle
and stared. The meeting didn't last long.
A Nation In
day, in what was believed to be an unprecedented gesture, President Reagan
postponed the State of the Union address. Flags were lowered to half mast.
The Olympic torch in Los Angeles was relit. On Wall Street, the stock
exchange went silent for a solemn minute of respect.
So many hopes
and dreams were pinned on Ms. McAuliffe, an awesome mother and teacher. How
could things go so wrong?
Christa McAuliffe's Memory 25 Years Later
Now, 25 years
later, schools, universities, and space-focused education organizations will
commemorate Ms. McAuliffe and her fellow astronauts with events and
Week, here are just a few of them:
* A ceremony
at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, site of the Challenger launch
* A Day of
Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery
* A reunion of
teachers from the 1986 staff at Concord High School in New Hampshire, where
Ms. McAuliffe taught
of space-research projects at McAuliffe Regional Charter Public Middle
School, in Framingham, Massachusetts
McAuliffe's Legacy Lives On
legacy lives on too in the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
From Education Week, the words of Dan Barstow, president of the Center:
generation of teachers who were around and teaching at the time of the
Challenger accident. For us, clearly, she was such an exceptional teacher,
such an inspiring astronaut and educator. We still remember her and feel
that,” said Mr. Barstow. “It was such a deep-searing moment in the nation’s
soul, and we have an obligation to carry on that mission, that legacy, to
Check out the
video below to see the new McAuliffe-Shepherd Discovery Center: