|Challenger Crew 1986. Courtesy of NASA: http://nix.larc.nasa.gov/search;jsessionid=1swxgk3d2uxf5|
I was in an archaeological lab in Atlanta, Georgia, when the site director burst into the lab and declared, "The space shuttle blew up!" Time stood still. Silence descended. We were all shocked by the tragic news and very little work was done for the rest of the day. Having grown up a huge fan of the space program, I was deeply struck by the loss. I remember thinking, now I know how people felt when JFK was assassinated. I was too young to remember that, was old enough to have vague memories of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King's assassinations, but this was the tragic event that struck home hard for me.
As I remember it, Congress had been pushing hard for NASA to declare the space shuttle flights routine rather than experimental, insisting the shuttle flights occur at regular and regulated intervals. This was one of the factors that led to the disaster. Never again would the shuttle fleet be viewed in that light. Spaceflight was, is, and always will be risky business. Those who willingly undertake the risks are to be admired for their resolve.
For a more detailed article on the happenings that day, see: http://blog.nasm.si.edu/2011/01/28/remembering-challenger-25-years-later/
A moment of silence please as we remember the crew who gave their lives in the pursuit of knowledge and adventure on the high frontier. The crew that awful day was: