STS-51-L "Challenger" -
Today marks the 25 anniversary of the Challenger explosion and loss of the STS-51-L crew when an O-ring failed on one of the space shuttle's two SRB's, causing the External Fuel tank to explode and causing Challenger to disintegrate midair, at 73 seconds after liftoff. All seven crew members died after their module crashed at 207mph into the Atlantic Ocean. It was January 28th, 1986 at 11:38 EST.
I wasn't alive then.
In fact, after Challenger, shuttles and all missions were grounded for 3 years until the year I was born, 1988. My family moved to FL after Challenger, but once you are a part of the NASA family, you are always a part of the NASA family. I've watched the video coverage from that day, feeling the countdown of those seconds like drumbeats, listening to the chatter over the speakers, and after 60 seconds goes by .... years of watching shuttles climb into the sky, I relax. Because everything is normal, and perfect. Then at 73 seconds, a flash, and the explosion of the fuel tank and you know that things are horribly wrong and they aren't going to make it, and I jolt back in my seat. I blink. I rewind it, and I watch it again.
No matter how many times I watch it, I still flinch and jerk back and think "did that really happen?" it did. and 17 years and 4 days later, I would know how it felt to lose NASA family, as we lost Columbia and her crew on their return to KSC.
Even being born after the Challenger explosion, I still feel the loss keenly. I've talked with NASA workers and people who knew those from Columbia, and heard them talk about the terrible "same-ness" between Challenger and Columbia. Loss of astronauts is loss of astronauts, no matter what year. And loss of friends and family stays the same. I've noticed something among our NASA pride. We are protective of our losses and our memories. We rejoice hugely in our victories and pray for safeties and mourn our losses.
I love NASA and I love the Kennedy Space Center. This is my home here.
I plan to always honor and remember the ones we lost, because I think they deserve our respect. Even as the shuttle program comes to a close ... the families of NASA will continue to remember, to share the memories and experiences of our special lives here. :)
Please pray with me on the last few missions for what I always pray for our astronauts.
A. Safe liftoff and flight up, and safe flight down and landing.
B. For hearts to be changed and moved by the GLORY of God in space.
C. For the telling of the wonders of Creation and God's glory to be told.
D. For space travel and exploration be so used by God to expel all other ideas of creation.
If you all have any memories or thoughts about the Challenger, please comment and share with us! It feels so odd and yet so normal to blog about such a hard thing, and yet feel like when you look at pictures and read the accounts, that you are writing of family, in a way. :)
It's a special thing to be a part of. Thank you, Daddy for working so hard for NASA and Boeing!
Oh the glories that we will see, even beyond what any astronaut or satellite or probe could EVER see, when we see the heavens and stars in all their glory one day with our Savior!!!
With love, and remembrance ....
~ Jean Marie ~
"Is not God in the height of heaven? And see the highest stars, how lofty they are!"
"He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name."