My fascination with The Challenger and Christa McAuliffe started as early as third grade. Doing a presentation on Christa McAuliffe, dressing up as her and really understanding how she lived, brought to light a whole new viewpoint for my younger self.
Here we have a young schoolteacher who was chosen to be the first teacher in space. Understanding the training she had to complete to be qualified, her normal life, and her students really showed me that she was a person- just like myself. I carried a creative journal leading up to my final project one year of middle school, writing “diary entries” as Christa McAuliffe.
The Challenger, even though I was not alive, impacted my life greatly. I was always the first to educate my fellow students on o-rings, on how many seconds into flight the accident happened, and most importantly, the astronauts we lost on 28 January 1986. The people we lost on 28 January 1986.
Columbia. Challenger. Apollo 1.
The people behind those names that were lost. That left their loved ones behind.
Today, on NASA’s day of Remembrance, I wanted to take a moment and pause to think about the 17 astronauts who have lost their lives doing what they loved- being innovators in their field; space.
Because of them, work continues to make spaceflight safer- learning from the past catastrophes and observing the brave men and women who were all integral parts of their missions.
NASA has this page on their website in case you want to read more: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/dor2018/index.html.
“In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.
All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You’re not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.
The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.
Our journey into space will go on.”
These words, said by President Bush in 2003 regarding the Columbia disaster, still ring true today- and every day.
“We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.” -Ronald Reagan, 1986.
The world stopped for a moment when these three disasters happened. We can continue to honor the legacies of these lost men and women by fulfilling the missions the astronauts set out to do…
The Columbia – discovering new varieties of Microgravity.
The Challenger – spreading STEM education.
Apollo 1 – putting a man on the moon.
“Together, we will go where no man or woman has gone before.”