Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 29

Thread: 20th Anniversary of the Challenger Tragedy

  1. #1
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,571

    20th Anniversary of the Challenger Tragedy

    As tomorrow's anniversary approaches, thought I'd share this article from my local paper. Christa McAuliffe was a teacher at my high school (and I had met her on a couple of occasions, since my uncle was the HS guidance counselor at the time), and the Challenger explosion has been my "JFK" moment....I remember exactly where I was, and how the rest of that day went.....

    I was in 6th grade at the time, and had just come back from the lunch room to my classroom to watch the launch on TV, along with the rest of my class. After the explosion, we were all sent home, and I spent the next 8 hours glued to the TV hoping for a miracle that anyone had survived. The next day or so were a media circus around Concord....the sight of all the TV trucks around the high school still sticks vividly in my mind.

    Here's the editorial from the Concord Monitor:

    The wind blew cold, and ice coated the cradle that held the space shuttle Challenger. Mission 51-L, the mission whose most famous payload was Concord teacher Christa McAuliffe, had already been delayed several times.

    The countdown clock showed 20 minutes to launch when the closeout crew tried to do one of the last and seemingly simplest of the thousands of tasks that had to be performed before the ship left for space. They had to close and lock the door.

    The task took more than two hours. The crowd of Christa's friends and well-wishers in the stands at the three-mile line shivered, muttered and grew nervous.

    First a sensor designed to confirm that the latch pins were in place failed. That problem was solved, but then the external door handle wouldn't come off. The threads on a bolt were stripped.

    To minimize the chance of an explosion, the workers sent for a cordless drill. An ordinary Black & Decker arrived 15 minutes later. The drill bit spun ineffectually for a few moments, then stopped. The battery was dead.

    We were at the Cape for the launch, and that was the moment nervousness turned to anxiety. The next nine batteries the vast NASA machine tried in the drill were all dead or nearly so. The door handle had to be cut off with a hacksaw.

    This memory returned as tomorrow's 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster approached. Since then the crew of the space shuttle Columbia has also died in an accident. The shuttle program itself is scheduled for termination in 2010.

    In Concord, Christa's death remains just beneath the surface. A mention of her name can bring tears. People still leave tokens of remembrance, flowers, apples, notes, polished stones and silver charms at her grave. Her death, which occurred in public, like that of President John Kennedy, brought with it a similar end to innocence.

    Beyond the personal pain that our community feels, it is worth asking 20 years later why humans should explore space.

    The reasons range from the mundane - products developed for the space program have proved to be valuable on Earth - to life's cosmic questions: How did we get here? Are we alone?

    The first reason to explore space is the one mountaineer George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there." It is human nature to explore and to seek answers for the largest of questions.

    Mankind reaches for space because it needs an escape hatch for its curiosity, spirit and, perhaps, survival. It has become important to learn whether the sun's energy, or some other form of power, can be harnessed from space in a way that reduces Earth's reliance on the fossil fuels whose combustion causes global warming.

    There is a need to discover whether it truly is possible to colonize another planet, an asteroid or a moon. Resources found there could someday replace their counterparts on Earth or provide the fuel and materials for flights deeper into space.

    Finally, Americans need to explore space because if we don't, someone else will.

    For centuries, the Chinese were the most technically advanced civilization on Earth. Their enormous armada sailed the Orient and Africa. But in the 15th century, when Britain, Holland, France, Spain and Portugal sent fleets across uncharted seas to conquer, capture and trade, China turned inward and beached its ships. Chinese civilization fossilized. Five centuries later, the nation is still struggling to catch up.

    The same thing could and probably will happen in space, the next frontier. Those who don't go will be left behind.

    The Challenger, with Christa McAuliffe aboard, shook Earth goodbye 20 years ago tomorrow. Christa died that day, but her dream of reaching for the stars lives on, as it must.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 27 Jan 2006 at 1:26 PM.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 1998
    Location
    NOLA
    Posts
    4,468
    I was in the 8th grade at lunch when my science teacher went around the tables in the cafeteria telling us the sad news. Looking back on it now, I was sort of far removed from what actually happened. A few years later when I was a junior in high school, I went on a class trip to D.C. While visiting the Capital, we saw a memorial of the Challenger on the ceiling of the rotunda. That was a "wow" moment for me.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Section 14-12-7, 3rd PM
    Posts
    2,096
    I was a junior in HS. They announced over the intercom. Definataly a "always remember where you were when...." moment. There was a girl at our school that was at the launch. She said, people on the ground around her didn't immedialtely realize what had happened and cheered because they thought it was the booster rockets separating at they were supposed to.

  4. #4
    I was working for a moving company, packing household goods that day. The lady we were moving walked into the living room non-chalantly and announced "the shuttle blew up" and walked away. I stopped what I was doing and walked into the room where the TV was and heard someone say "obviously a major malfunction".

    It seems still, 20 years later, the greatest understatement I've ever heard.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,181
    Wow... I remember watching it on TV in a class room! I think that I was in first or second grade.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,747
    I was headed to work and happened to glance to the east and immediately saw that something had gone wrong. By then, here in FL, launches were so commonplace you just didn't pay that much attention, but we all know how they were supposed to look. Anyway, by the time I got to work (at a bookstore) everyone was glued to the t.v., as were all the customers who came in that day.

  7. #7
    I was a senior in high school. I recall the day being very cold, very crystal clear. We'd had a massive ice storm just a couple of days before, and school was closed due to power lines having come down. I remember walking through the hallway between classes, and the news was traveling like a visual wave through the entire student population. Many were crying, visibly upset with the whole thing. The rest of the day and week seemed shrouded in quiet, each person trying to figure the whole thing out. There was much discussion in our classes, both from a pure science and a psychological aspect.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Posts
    5,869
    Blog entries
    6
    A friend and I were in the drive-up line of a Wendy's in Mandeville, Louisiana when the announcment came on the radio. One of those moments of your life you never forget. NASA had such a good track record before that and it seems like they've never recovered from that tragedy.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,429

    20 years, wow, I feel old

    I was in my senior year in college at Syracuse - I heard about it from a fellow student and then found a tv and was glued - I remember feeling empty -

    my boyfriend (now my husband) called me later that day, feeling very blue as his Dad had worked on the space program as an engineer on the guidance systems in the late 60's and when the shuttle design was worked on, he left the job because he said "that shuttle is going to kill people someday" and he wanted no part in it - he said the design was lousy and the safety cuts were criminal - so his Dad was really heartbroken and pissed off

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Santiago, Chile
    Posts
    4,767
    Can't say I remember... I was like 18 months old... Still the images are shocking...and what's even more shocking is knowing that they were alive while falling...

    Oh well, life should go on, and a better way to get cargo and people on orbit should be designed... I believe that for human missions they should use capsules, like in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, only bigger... None of them failed (re-entring or taking off, so don't mention Apollo 13)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Posts
    3,236
    ^-- Apollo 1 killed 3 astronauts.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Bertrand's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Red State
    Posts
    38
    As like most everyone, I was glued to the TV at school.

    The Challenger Explosion is really a classic example of the problem with group think. In fact it is often studied in group communication classes.

    Engineers in the room knew that there were problems with the o rings, but the project manager dominated the group discussion and pressed for the launch. Of course it did not help that there was pressure from the Reagan administration for a successful launch.

    http://dssresources.com/cases/spaceshuttlechallenger/
    Satan in the Suburbs

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    In a 480 square foot ex baseball nacho stand
    Posts
    6,999
    I was working in Sarasota, FL as a Junior Planner and five of us got on the roof of the city hall annex building to watch the launch (as ZG knows, you could see the launches across the state). We were all looking at it and then we saw the now famous Y shape of the vapor trail. We all just stood there for a second and I turned to one of the others and said "That doesn't look right." A couple fo the others went downstairs and turned on the radio, heard the news and came back up to tell us what was reported. For the next 20 minutes or so several people came up to the roof and looked at the vapor trail. Reading the stories in the paper today brings it all back.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  14. #14
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,429
    Quote Originally posted by Planit
    I was working in Sarasota, FL as a Junior Planner and five of us got on the roof of the city hall annex building to watch the launch (as ZG knows, you could see the launches across the state). We were all looking at it and then we saw the now famous Y shape of the vapor trail. We all just stood there for a second and I turned to one of the others and said "That doesn't look right." A couple fo the others went downstairs and turned on the radio, heard the news and came back up to tell us what was reported. For the next 20 minutes or so several people came up to the roof and looked at the vapor trail. Reading the stories in the paper today brings it all back.
    wow - what a story -

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Upstate
    Posts
    4,825
    I was watching TV while getting ready for work. I had leave shortly after it became clear that something had gone terribly wrong, but I worked at a department store, and everyone in the store was hanging out in the electronics section, watching the TV coverage all afternoon.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Santiago, Chile
    Posts
    4,767
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Apollo 1 killed 3 astronauts.
    Yeah but 14>>3.... Nothing's perfect jordanb.... But some things are better than others...And the problem with Apollo 1 is that the capsule had an atmosphere too rich with Oxygen (more than the standard for space flight) and of course, it was the first one...and I think NASA had been warned not to do that.... Why must NASA ignore the experts?

  17. #17
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,571
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    ... heard someone say "obviously a major malfunction".

    It seems still, 20 years later, the greatest understatement I've ever heard.
    That still resonates with me, but not as much as:

    "Challenger go at throttle up."

    "Roger, go at throttle up."

    I still get chills whenever I hear that audio.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Posts
    3,236
    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Yeah but 14>>3.... Nothing's perfect jordanb.... But some things are better than others...And the problem with Apollo 1 is that the capsule had an atmosphere too rich with Oxygen (more than the standard for space flight) and of course, it was the first one...and I think NASA had been warned not to do that.... Why must NASA ignore the experts?
    The Shuttle is a bad design because it was built with very tight money constraints (NASA was justifying its existence on a shoestring). Apollo was a bad design because it was built with very tight time constraints (gotta win the space race). Pure oxygen was chosen because the life support systems were much simpler using pure oxygen than using a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen (which is the way the Russians did it, btw). It was a design decision to make things simpler, but the result was that, in the pure oxygen environment, most of the contents of the passenger cabin became flammable such that when the switch shorted, it turned into an inferno. The Apollo capsule never could have gotten a UL listing.

    They knew that the capsule was a death trap when they built it, and supposedly one of the astronauts who was killed had previously hung a lemon from it to show what he thought of it. But they were hoping they'd get lucky. When the fire happened, they chose to "fix" the problem by pumping it full of nitrogen prior to take off. The life support system took several hours to filter all of the nitrogen out so by the time the atmosphere went to pure oxygen, it'd be in zero-G where fires don't start as easily.

    There were something like 10 manned Apollo launches. Of those, one failed catastrophically and very nearly fatally. Another burnt up fatally on the ground.

    There have been over 100 shuttle launches now, with two catastrophic and fatal failures. If the Shuttle were an airliner it would never be certified by the FAA to fly, but I think the odds are still a hell of a lot better than with Apollo.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    438
    Yeap remember the day, 5th grade had just come back in from lunch and the teacher had a TV on in the classroom, which we all found odd. We never had a TV in the classroom with it tuned to a station... Our teacher told us what had happened and like most of you I can recount most of the day. Similar to the 9/11 and other Space Shuttle incident... I guess every generation has it's JFK moment... Why aren't they the positive moments that we remember? A major Tech or health break throught, etc...

  20. #20
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    5,502
    I remember the shock of that day. I was in Chemistry class (high school) when I heard the news. We were planning on going out to the landing of the flight, if it were to land at Edwards. It was something my mom and dad treated us to from time to time.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Northwestern Ohio
    Posts
    9,327
    This Bear was a manager at a manufacturing plant when the news came across that the Challenger had a problem. We did not have access to a TV set so we listened to radio news broadcasts. We were all stunned, because for many a year we were accustomed to successful NASA flights.

    My frriend Marcia's sister was a friend of Christa McAuliffe. They worked together at a camp on a lake in New Hampshire.....I think it was Lake Winnipausakee. Not sure of the spelling.

    This is one (1) government expense that I can support.....and throw out the window my Libertarian leanings. I agree with the Concord Monitor's editorial.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    I was at work. I was a cashier at Kmart and I saw the news coverage while passing the TVs on my way back to the cash register from a break.

  23. #23
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,255
    This is going to make me sound like a major young-in, but I was watching it in my Pre-K class. The teacher had been talking all week about how great it was that a teacher was going up. All of the kids were very confused when it blew up and the teacher got very upset.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Quote Originally posted by Planderella
    I was in the 8th grade at lunch when my science teacher went around the tables in the cafeteria telling us the sad news.
    Same here. It was chilling even at that age. The Columbia shuttle "anniversary" is only a few days away, and I remember that with the same angst...

  25. #25
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,571
    Reviving an old thread, as I recall the experience from 22 years ago.

    RIP Challenger. Still the defining memory from my childhood.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 12
    Last post: 25 Aug 2010, 2:58 PM
  2. Minneapolis Bridge Tragedy
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 33
    Last post: 05 Aug 2007, 10:49 PM
  3. The Big Dig Tragedy
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 20
    Last post: 13 Jul 2006, 2:08 PM
  4. 20th Anniversary of Bhopal
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 06 Dec 2004, 3:47 PM
  5. Replies: 27
    Last post: 28 Jul 2004, 10:24 PM