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(WTKR)   Man sorting through old box in grandparents' house finds never before seen pics of the Challenger disaster, blasting subby right back to his fourth-grade classroom. Where were you older Farkers that day? (with the pics)   (wtkr.com) divider line 309
    More: Sad, Challenger, space shuttles, Challenger disasters, Bill Rendle, Christa McAuliffe, grandparents, Michael Hindes  
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13084 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Jan 2014 at 8:36 AM (35 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-18 02:38:46 PM
I saw it happen from outside my classroom at Titusville High School just across the lagoon from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad. My dad was a NASA engineer. Lots of our parents worked there.

Not a good day.
 
2014-01-18 02:41:43 PM
Could've sworn it was a Monday morning but a quick Google check says Tuesday. I was 29, about 2 miles from work (small AM country station) and still pissed that the Patriots had gotten their ass handed to them by the Bears in the Superb Owl a couple days prior. We just ran the CBS radio feed the better part of the afternoon.
 
2014-01-18 02:53:15 PM
  I was 26, sitting at home, and watching the launch on tv.  When Mission Control said, "go for throttle up", I said "OK", and took my eyes off the screen to reload my pot pipe; so I didn't actually see the explosion.  I heard the static and looked up to see the ball of smoke and booster rockets.  I immediatly knew what happened.  Needless to say, I couldn't light the pipe, and instantly lost my buzz.
 
2014-01-18 02:58:08 PM
I was in 5th grade at Cheney Elementary in Orlando, Florida.  It was extraordinarily cold, so for whatever reason, the girls stayed inside while the boys went outside to play football.  As we played, we saw the shuttle go up.  When a launch went up in Central Florida back then, the world practically stopped.  It kept going and going, and then there was this red-orange poof, cough, where the smoke trail just got larger.  The boosters twisted every which way around.  We must have stood there a good five minutes.  None of us, save the PE coach, of course, really understood exactly what happened.  There was a sense of an explosion, but we believed everyone was safe, because we could see trails of something coming from the cloud...what one of us took to be parachutes.  The idea of dead astronauts never once occurred to us.

I guess out of a sense of what to do next, the coach made us finish the football game, then we went back in. I had Mrs. Hudson for 5th grade.  The boys walked in the room, and all of them, including that old little black woman, had been or were crying.  I honestly don't remember what happened the rest of the school day, but I do remember watching Reagan's speech that night on television.

And all of it came rushing back some 20 years later when I was expecting the sonic boom over my head from Columbia, and it never came.
 
2014-01-18 03:07:51 PM
The way I remember it is: I was a sophomore in HS just making my way to lunch, and it was announced over the school's PA. Everyone, students, teachers and staff, were just stunned. I'm pretty sure that's all accurate. What I'm not sure about is whether they wheeled the TV carts into the classrooms to watch the endless replays or if that was at home later or the next day or whatever. I do remember that whenever/wherever I ended up seeing and hearing it, I felt really, really bad for the guy who kept reading off the numbers well after it was obvious that it was gone. To this day I cannot watch that footage without welling up.
 
2014-01-18 03:11:02 PM

Worst Name I Ever Heard: The way I remember it is: I was a sophomore in HS just making my way to lunch, and it was announced over the school's PA. Everyone, students, teachers and staff, were just stunned. I'm pretty sure that's all accurate. What I'm not sure about is whether they wheeled the TV carts into the classrooms to watch the endless replays or if that was at home later or the next day or whatever. I do remember that whenever/wherever I ended up seeing and hearing it, I felt really, really bad for the guy who kept reading off the numbers well after it was obvious that it was gone. To this day I cannot watch that footage without welling up.


It's funny you mention the announcer.  The announcer was based out of Houston.  When Challenger went up that day, Johnson Space Center actually hadn't turned the screens for a video feed of the launch.  The shuttle was routine.  He was reading numbers of telemetry that was based off information from the boosters and data from right before the explosion.  He had to be told by Kennedy that there was "obviously a major malfunction."
 
2014-01-18 03:39:07 PM
I was working the first year (of five years) as a social worker in New York City for an agency that provided recreation and social services for autistic children and adults.  Our agency shared space at a large church building with a Board of Education school program for autistic elementary school children.  The head teacher came into our office very distraught that the shuttle which had a teacher on board just blew up. Had to wait until I went home to see the video of it on TV.  Of course if that happened today at work, we'd be running to our computers and smartphones (and FARK) to get the latest news/video and of course commentary. Times have changed. For the better?
 
2014-01-18 03:57:37 PM
3rd grade... closest school to Johnson Space Center, maybe half a mile away.. Most of the astronauts younger kids went to our school, or the school 3 blocks away... (all astronauts not just the ones on the Challenger)
We watched it live, we could get the closed circuit feed from NASA...
I remember us not understanding what happened, and our principal got on the speaker and told all teachers to turn off the tv's.
Grew up close enough to NASA that every kid in this area had at least one parent that worked on site or as a contractor.

Friend went to the school with Onizukas daughter (she skipped going to this launch, she apparently had gone to the previous one), he remembers everyone watching in the cafeteria, it happened, he heard high heels, and three women scooped Darian Onizuka up and took her to the office.
 
2014-01-18 04:15:51 PM
My story isn't so much about where I was. Local teacher (at the time, went on to be a principal) Robert Forester, one of the finalists is/was a friend and running partner. Adding to the emotions I felt was the realization that he could easily have been the one.
 
2014-01-18 04:16:34 PM
I was in HS watching it in the school library on a break.

The understatement of the century from a female TV voice, presumably part of NASA staff:

"We have an anomaly."
 
2014-01-18 04:24:49 PM

painless42: I was in 5th grade. My class wasn't watching but another class was. One of the other teachers came in to our room and told my teacher what had happened loud enough for the kids in the front to hear and when it got back to me in the back of the class, being a huge NASA fanboy and 10 year old "expert" on these things, I told the kid in the next seat that he'd heard wrong and that the challenger blowing up was impossible.

I also remember that one of the 5th grade teachers had had a dream the night before that it had blown up and everyone thought it was creepy and pre-cognitive, though in fairness in 5th grade you don't know anything about probability.

Also remember very vividly all the horrid jokes we told:

What does NASA stand for? Need Another Seven Astronauts

Where was Christa McAuliffe's last vacation? All over Florida?

What was Christa McAuliffe's last words to her husband? "You feed the dog, I'll feed the fish"

/A paychiatrist would say that Gallows Humor is an appropriate coping mechanism for tragedy

//I just think 10 year old boys are insensitive little jerks

///at least I was a jerk in the 80s and was allowed to mature into a functional adult. In 2014, my 10 year old self would be sent to sensitivity training and receive death threats after being outed and shamed on Gawker or jezebel for making cracks like that.


It's sad how far we've fallen
 
2014-01-18 04:37:44 PM

unyon: MmmmBacon: I was sitting in Computer Science class, senior year of High School. When the announcement came of the disaster, and the teacher asked if we knew anything about this particular mission, I was the only student in class that knew a teacher was among the crew.

I had just finished my grade 12 English exam and was heading home for lunch when I heard it in the car.

/Grad '86 represent


Was sitting in Law & Justice class, senior year of high school - a student knocked on the door, the teacher answered it, went RUNNING ass over teakettle to the other side of the room to roll over a TV on a tall stand and turned the news report on... we all watched in mostly stunned silence.

Was a pretty quiet at school the rest of the day.
 
2014-01-18 04:38:35 PM
At work. Detachment 2 at Onizuka Air Force Base. Except it was called Sunnyvale Air Force Base at the time (or just the "Blue Cube").

One of the saddest days I've ever personally experienced in my life.

//dammit. Pass the kleenex. :(
 
2014-01-18 04:49:14 PM

austin_millbarge: Senior year in HS, was the only day of HS I stayed home sick. Turned on the TV specifically to watch the launch. I didn't move from the sofa all day.

After reading some of the reactions other people posted, about stores being ghost towns and businesses shutting down etc made me realize something. If this happened today, how little anyone would care. The general public knows so little about and seems to be so ambivalent regarding our space program efforts. I guess it's the result of the newness of the space program wearing off or perhaps it just isn't emphasized in schools like it was when I was young.

Would love to see the public fall in love with space again. It's a worthwhile endeavor.


First we'll have to fall in love with science again, then maybe we can do the same for space exploration a little further down the road.  Remember NASA doing the pumpkin carving contest and posting an exhibit last Halloween for school kids to come check out?  They put up a video online as well, if you haven't seen it.  Anyway, about half the comments on that video were people herpa-derping about how these people should be in jail for wasting tax dollars on things like this, how they serve no purpose for Murika, how we haven't gained anything of value from the program, etc.  Until that mentality passes, we aren't going anywhere.  And I think we'll have to hit rock bottom before we collectively realize that outlawing abortions and putting Jayzus in schools was a one-way ticket to a permanent sh*t economy and rampant social problems.
 
2014-01-18 05:14:52 PM
On patrol on the Korean DMZ, we went on alert immediately upon hearing the news.
 
2014-01-18 06:18:27 PM

powhound: edenza: We had a snow day. My mother was prone to High Drama so I was just about to eat lunch when she came running through the house yelling that the Space Shuttle had blown up. I ate my toasted cheese sandwich, then went to go see if it was true or a plotline on Y&R.

We also had a snow day (9th grade). I was home by myself though.


There was another poster here also in SW PA who mentioned the snow day. It was also the 16th birthday of one of my BFFs. We'd planned to go do something but the snow shut that all down.
 
2014-01-18 06:26:17 PM
El Paso, Texas. Fourth grade. I was a nerdy little kid and the gifted class was in the library to watch the launch. I still remember the librarian, Mrs. Warnock, as a friend. I'd had a friend, Sunshine, who I knew was ill, but my parents never actually mentioned it to me when she died and it was Mrs. Warnock who actually told me.

So that was what I learned at the library.
 
2014-01-18 06:27:47 PM
I was in class.

/first grade.
 
2014-01-18 06:45:33 PM
Third grade, standing in lunch line.  After the excitement built up about the video footage McAuliffe was going to be sending us kids, it felt weird to be told in a matter of fact manner just before being handed our food.  We were all excited one moment then just 'Hey, that teacher died, so we'll be doing normal work when we get back to class' kind of change.  The teacher just went on with the day like nothing really happened.  It was years later before I saw the footage of the incident.
 
2014-01-18 06:58:11 PM
I was a junior in high school, the stage manager of the theater department, working in the back room building something while the rest of the class was watching the launch on TV.  A kid came back and said "Hey--the space shuttle just blew up."  I said "What?  Stop kidding around."  He was all "No--really--it did."

I went out to the main classroom full of shocked and silent kids, watched the replay, and felt a sense of shock I had never felt, and only surpassed by 9/11.  I wept a little for the lost lives, the realization America can make mistakes, and the anger I immediately felt that when the whole story came out we'd hear about shiatty engineering and shiatty political decisions.

History and facts proved my initial reaction correct--the single O-ring and the forced sub-freezing launch were known hazards that backfired epically.  There was no logical reason for the disaster.
 
2014-01-18 07:22:15 PM
Wow, the guys trolling this thread are sooooo edgy.
 
2014-01-18 07:22:34 PM
A friend of mine and I were returning to our high school to visit with the librarian. He'd done some artwork on the walls and he wanted to show me how it came out.

I remember looking at the flag at half-mast in the courtyard and thinking to myself, "That's odd."  Neither of us had any idea what had happened until we went into the library..  I remember the librarian was in tears, and I remember her telling us something to the effect that she'd competed to be on that flight...that she'd been a bit jealous of the teacher that had made it.

Funny, I have no other recollection of that day.  I don't remember leaving the library, what we did afterward...nothing..but I remember that flag...
 
2014-01-18 07:41:52 PM

leeto2: A friend of mine and I were returning to our high school to visit with the librarian. He'd done some artwork on the walls and he wanted to show me how it came out.

I remember looking at the flag at half-mast in the courtyard and thinking to myself, "That's odd."  Neither of us had any idea what had happened until we went into the library..  I remember the librarian was in tears, and I remember her telling us something to the effect that she'd competed to be on that flight...that she'd been a bit jealous of the teacher that had made it.

Funny, I have no other recollection of that day.  I don't remember leaving the library, what we did afterward...nothing..but I remember that flag...


At least a polar bear didn't fall on ya.
 
2014-01-18 07:52:45 PM
I worked for Ma Bell, we had a live lead to the lift off.

The explosion.

My reaction: Holy fark, they're dead.

My co-workers: fark you, you sick bastid, What is wrong with you?

History bears me out. I no longer work with soulless troglodytes.

/Don't vote for this, just remember that peopled died; people will always die when the government goes with the lowest bidder...

//RIP Chaffee, White and Grissom
 
2014-01-18 08:30:20 PM
On the bus coming home from 3rd grade. I heard it on the radio. I was hugely interested in spaceflight and science in general and was pretty crushed.
 
2014-01-18 08:33:52 PM
sub,

I was in the 4th grade watching Pinocchio at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville.  We frolicked on the boardwalk after hand even though the digital clock on the office tower across the river read 27 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sky was clear, and I saw cloud to the south (I was a budding geographer) that l would now say looked liked Sideshow Bob's hair.  We went to McDonalds, and afterward, my mom came to tell the Challenger blew up.  The rest of the day was spent watching the explosion over and over on TV.
 
2014-01-18 09:17:45 PM
Hubby and I were home because school had been called off. It was -29F at the house and the wind was blowing about 40 mph. We were watching the sliding glass doors bend in and trying to keep the wood stove red hot. NC mountains.
I was in the back of the house and heard him yell "Look at this!"
Got to the TV in time to see the debris spiraling down.
Remember thinking, why the heck did they launch on such a farking cold day?
FWIW, I remember Kennedy being shot, and MacArthur being fired. And I didn't like Ike.
 
2014-01-18 09:38:13 PM
I was a bit too young to *really* understand (3rd grade), but in retrospect at age 35, I find it terribly saddening.  All that work and pride, and training for that teacher, who was probably so excited she couldn't contain herself.  All for nothing 20 seconds later.

Reagan's Speech is one I'll never forget.
 
2014-01-18 09:39:48 PM
I can hardly believe I just found this while cleaning house today.  I drew it in Kindergarten.  Refer to my TL;DR CSB post above for context.

I redacted personal info, hence the black bars.  The notes along the righthand side were written by my Mom.

The orbiter isn't visible because I needed a place to write "SPACE SHUTTLE".  The flames coming from the ET are supposed to be the main engines.  The poorly-drawn and chunky SRBs aren't lit because it's supposed to be on the ground.  And I was five.

The paper is covered by a sheet of adhesive-back plastic that wasn't archive quality.

www.lovenotedigital.com
 
2014-01-18 09:40:02 PM
I was 2 months short of being born when Kennedy was killed. I was old enough to register the RFK and MLK assassinations. I remember the Moon Landing. I remember Vietnam and the protests fairly well. Watergate is quite clear to me. I heard about and imagined the horrors of Apollo I and remember the suspense of Apollo 13.

This one I remember all too well. I was at work, listening to the radio in the back of the bakery. Stunned. Most of my work was done, since baking is the early morning part of the job, and I was cleaning up the kitchen and getting ready to head home. I agree, in some ways, that this really was a bookend to 9/11, but not quite the same thing.

Other than the dead astronauts, and their families, I feel worst for Roger Boisjoly, who tried to stop the launch and failed. What a horrible feeling he must have had as that launched, the relief that the O rings didn't fail during launch, then the total pain that the disaster followed only a minute later.
 
2014-01-18 09:47:00 PM
7th grade, I think. Didn't see it live, was told after. I don't remember having any meaningful reaction, which is a little odd because as a youngster I was all about space and rockets and whatnot.

A number of years later a friend introduced me to this album. I have the strangest attachment to it.
 
2014-01-18 09:49:43 PM
Grade 7 Strathcona School in Owen Sound.  Now I feel old.
 
2014-01-18 10:12:15 PM

edenza: powhound: edenza: We had a snow day. My mother was prone to High Drama so I was just about to eat lunch when she came running through the house yelling that the Space Shuttle had blown up. I ate my toasted cheese sandwich, then went to go see if it was true or a plotline on Y&R.

We also had a snow day (9th grade). I was home by myself though.

There was another poster here also in SW PA who mentioned the snow day. It was also the 16th birthday of one of my BFFs. We'd planned to go do something but the snow shut that all down.


I lived in western NY (Jamestown) at that time. Snow days were fairly rare, so it must have been quite the system going through, assuming that it was basically the same storm affecting western PA.
 
2014-01-18 10:13:28 PM

WTFDYW: At least a polar bear didn't fall on ya.


erm...I confess I don't get the joke. sorry.
 
2014-01-18 10:21:52 PM
I was at home watching 2001 on HBO. My Mom came in to the living room and told me to turn on the news. Kind of eerie.
 
2014-01-18 10:26:18 PM
I was in first grade, and we were in our classroom watching the launch on television together. Of course, like every other kid in America, we'd all voted for our own teacher to be part of the TISP and everyone was excited to see the teacher who'd won actually get to go. I don't think any of us (even our teachers) immediately recognized what had happened when we saw it happen. It didn't really sink in until whoever was doing the commentary actually said it, and then folks were speculating about how we thought we'd maybe seen a parachute, so maybe there could be a survivor. There wasn't any real panic to turn off the televisions or anything, which I'd imagine you might see today if there was a group of first graders watching something like that. I remember being in disbelief and that some of the teachers were crying. I don't remember a lot from that age, but I remember that very vividly.
 
2014-01-18 10:29:52 PM

Evil Canadian: Roger Boisjoly


Had to look him up. Brave man indeed. From his Wiki entry--Boisjoly died on January 6, 2012, of cancer of the colon, kidneys, and liver.

Jesus.
 
2014-01-18 10:29:59 PM
I was taking a "day off" from high school, and I was in a used bookstore when I first head about it. Was perusing the Sci-Fi stuff when I heard something strange on the radio in the store. When I asked the shopkeeper, he said, "Didn't you hear the shuttle blew up?"

I sort of creeped out the shopkeeper after that, because I just stood there for half an hour, staring at and listening to the radio, not moving at all.  I wasn't even aware I was doing that until he jostled me out of it.  It was one of those days that changed everything around you, even if your life hadn't really been affected by it.  The only thing that I could really feel was that the future had been changed... and died a bit.
 
2014-01-18 10:40:12 PM

leeto2: WTFDYW: At least a polar bear didn't fall on ya.

erm...I confess I don't get the joke. sorry.


Watch Roadhouse. All the way to the end.
 
2014-01-18 11:08:17 PM
Dad was driving me to school. We got pulled over by a cop for speeding.  My Dad explained to the cop we just got off the freeway a half block before and didn't have the distance to get going fast enough to speed in our Datsun.  The cop said that he was shaken up by the shuttle explosion and may have picked the wrong car and let us go.  We weren't listening to the radio and didn't know until then.  My Dad was really upset at the news. He worked for TRW forever and was proud of his contributions to all things spacey since the 60's.

It was so crazy... at that point it had seemed like a routine thing that didn't mean staying home to watch. Of course it would be fine. Just another mission. Watching the news that night, and the replay over and over... ugh.
 
2014-01-18 11:11:59 PM
I was in junior high, watching the launch in History class.  What was so creepily ironic was that,our teacher, Ms. Kelley, was a finalist teacher to go up.  Her physical testings brought her in a few seconds shy of Christa McAulliffe's, thus keeping her earthbound.  I remember the absolute quiet the most, and all of us just stunned.
 
2014-01-18 11:57:23 PM
At the hard end of a Physics / Biophysics Degree. The disaster occurred early in the morning local time, and I took the news to the University. Very few other students had heard the news that morning and were as shocked and saddened as I on that day.

I went in to the Study room, "Did you see that the Challenger exploded this morning?"
Most of them, "Can not have happened, it did not happen, come on you are joking".
Me, "It happened".

Then we found a TV (at the Uni bar) and were all saddened together. Many beers were had.
 
2014-01-18 11:57:48 PM
In between classes in college we were watching The Price is Right when the program was interrupted byt the pictures of the explosion.  We were in the altered state of mind that we had to watch it over and over to understand the seriousnes of whqt wqw going on.   We were blown by what we has seen.  It scared the crap out of us
 
2014-01-19 12:16:38 AM
I was working at Computer Sciences Corporation, and was supposed to give an interview at 10 am that day.  I saw a tiny picture on the CNN website after the first tower got hit, and couldn't get any updates after that.  Finally was told it was on TV down the hall, and just watched in amazement as it was repeated over and over.
 
2014-01-19 12:41:03 AM
I was three months old, and being admitted to the hospital with bronchitis.

So I don't really remember it.
 
2014-01-19 01:28:55 AM
In 1997 I got a job as a technical writer for a corporation located in Winston-Salem, NC. I shared a cubicle with a guy who genuinely was one of the nicest, most capable individuals I have ever been lucky enough to meet. His computer's screen saver was that iconic photo of the explosion. I waited a long time before I got enough courage to ask him why he was using *that* pic. He told me that on the morning of that launch, he was exceedingly drunk (as he often was since he was in the grip of alcoholism at the time) and playing around in a stairwell somewhere, swinging on railings and such. But at some point he lost his grip and fell very badly, breaking a thoracic vertebrae. He was on a hospital gurney in a hallway outside the ER for most of that day, trapped into watching the endlessly repeating loop of explosion footage. He said that was the day he decided his life was on the wrong path and he decided to get sober. He used that photo to remind himself of that decision, and to keep himself focused. I frankly admired this guy. I didn't stay at that job long and lost contact with him, but I wish him only the best.
 
2014-01-19 01:39:25 AM
I was released from Pima County Jail in Tucson (don't ask) that morning. Driving to Las Vegas when I turned on the radio and heard the news. One of the strangest days of my life.
 
2014-01-19 02:02:37 AM
Had just gotten back a month earlier from 2 yrs of working Middle East.  Was in an Barrington, IL engineering office looking for a little work moonlighting as a surveyor.  Can't remember the name of the company, but all the office staff and myself stood around watching it on live TV.  Still remember Mission Command continue to act like everything was going as planned as the rocket exploded and the two boosters took off on their own.
 
2014-01-19 06:46:39 AM
6th grade, i found out after school on the news (best i can remember)
 
2014-01-19 07:54:36 AM

Maturin: Interesting, most of us who remember seeing broadcasts from that day recall seeing it on live TV. But that shuttle launch was one of the first not broadcast on network television and most of us saw replays.


It was covered live by one television network - CNN.

Took me years to figure out why I was ta my aunt's house watching it and not my own (we didn't have school that day due to snow), and then when someone pointed out that only CNN was showing it live, it made sense. My aunt was the only person we knew who had cable TV.

orezona: NASA didn't realize there would be a problem and decided to launch anyway.


Morton Thiokol knew, and chose not to recommend a launch scrub. Roger Boisjoly told the higher ups at MT that O-rings would fail. After being ignored, he kept telling them, until they set up a 'task force' that had no power. All the way through late 1985, he kept telling MT management that the likelihood was that the mission would end in disaster.

Eventually they had a conference call with NASA, and Morton Thiokol was of the position that the O-rings would fail and the flight should be delayed, but during the call MT asked for a few minutes offline to discuss their final position. They came back with saying that the data was inconclusive (their charts indicated failure at something like 50 degrees, and it was far colder that night in Florida). NASA asked if there were objections to launching, and Morton Thiokol didn't object. Boisjoly eventually testified before Congress, and it ended his career because his colleagues shunned him for having told the truth.
 
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