14 thoughts on “The Challenger Anniversary”

  1. They should never have died. Did the supervisors ever get punished for over ruling the engineers that said no go? That teacher was my age.

  2. Happy Birthday, Rand.

    I was still in school when it happened. I missed the live launch. Still get chills when I see a video and I hear PAO say “liftoff of the 25th mission…”

    1. Got chills EVERY time I heard “Go at throttle up” for every launch thereafter. I was supporting that mission and was able to watch the launch from a rooftop at over at Cape Canaveral AFS. Only launch I ever saw in person.

  3. Well, happy birthday! Yeah, perhaps not as exciting as they used to be – but still so much better than the alternative.

    It seems like every bit of 32 years to me, FWIW. Of course that was the day I decided to commit to space activism. I’d been on the edge; that tipped me over. So there’s a very large part of my life since that ties right back to that day.

  4. I was very young. I knew that airplanes did not always work properly but I was astonished that the same thing could happen to a Shuttle, which I had assumed was the best flying machine that could yet be built.

    1. Actually, they didn’t. It was the External Tank that exploded, either set on fire by the leaking solid rocket segment, broken open by the wind shear aloft, or some combination of these factors.

  5. I was a 40 year old computer programmer working for New Jersey State Government. More significantly I had become a significant leader of the L5 Society in New Jersey. Our Space Days at the New Jersey State Museum had drawn significant attention in the larger community. I have even written a blog posting about this titled A Tale of Two Space Days.

    A coworker told me about the Challenger disaster. I was shocked about the disaster. Still, though, I continued my work with L5. In 1990 I started work at Goddard Space Flight Center as a contract employee. While there I saw some interesting management problems. I have started trying to draw people’s attention to these kinds of problems in STEM fields in general.

    One problem I have brought to people’s attention is sleep deprivation in the United States. Sleep deprived people make poor decisions. Deciding to launch Challenger on a very cold day was one such decision. These days I am pointing people to the February 2014 Mensa Bulletin. The feature article is “Zombie Nation” and describes how sleep deprivation is harming our country. The Challenger Disaster is the first thing mentioned.

    Rand, your book “Safe Is Not An Option” is an excellent book — but we must try to avoid management practices that are proven to cause real problems. Think sleep deprivation for example.

  6. By the time of the Challenger accident, I had gotten so annoyed with the launch time commercial TV voice-overs (I don’t think NASA TV was in existence yet?) that when I learned that the amateur radio club at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight center (W1NAN?) was rebroadcasting NASA’s press audio feed during shuttle missions on shortwave radio in the 40m band (with a “broadcast” rules waiver from FCC) that I had started listening to that with sound muted on the TV. For me every launch was still a bit of a nail-biter. Even though by the time of Challenger, NASA had ditched the pressure suits for crew and had long since removed the ejection seats. I saw the sickening Y cloud and then very shortly after the radio stated they had “no-downlink”, then a little while later…. “Obviously a major malfunction”. About a minute later “Flight dynamics officer confirms the vehicle has exploded.” After that I switched off the radio and the TV and went to work. I was in a daze. Was the first to share the news at work. Didn’t get much done that day. The Teacher In Space, Christa McAuliffe, was from New Hampshire. So was I. I was really looking forward to watching her classes from orbit.

    Happy Birthday Rand…

    1. … A correction: I believe ejection seats were only on Columbia and only for the pilot and co-pilot during the “experimental” missions before they were replaced. I was thinking of Columbia when I wrote that. I don’t they they were ever on any subsequent shuttle including Challenger. Couldn’t have been used from the mid-deck anyway.

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