Thursday, January 28, 2016

Obviously, A Major Malfunction

Where were you thirty years ago today, when you heard the news? Do you remember what you were doing?

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger rose on a thunderous cloud of smoke into the cold blue Florida sky. Seventy-three seconds later, a failed O-ring allowed flames to escape one of the solid rocket boosters and ignite the external fuel tank. A massive explosion tore the space shuttle apart. Seven astronauts died.
Shuttle flights had become routine, but this one was different. A high school teacher had won a trip on the shuttle to give lessons in space. Millions watched this launch on television, and witnessed a disaster.
At that time, I lived in Redlands, California, and worked as a librarian at a law school library in Fullerton. My commute took at least forty-five minutes, if traffic and weather were good. I listened to the launch proceedings until I arrived at the college. Delays had pushed back the launch. I went into the library believing Challenger would soon be on its way into orbit.
At some point that morning, I left my desk in the staff workroom and stopped to speak with Ann, a student employee at the main desk. She told me the shuttle had blown up.
I hurried back to the office. Another student employee, Cameron, was there.
“Did you hear the space shuttle exploded?” I blurted out.
His eyes rounded. He could only shake his head.
I pointed to the radio. “Turn it on.”

He did, and the awful news filled the room. Challenger was no more. Seven lives―gone.
Does the loss of Challenger remind you of the loss of the Titanic? Both were doomed by over-confidence and poor decisions of man, believing himself to have mastered his universe. That attitude is an accident waiting to happen.


  1. I was at work in a hospital volunteer office. One of the volunteers came in and told us the shuttle blew up. We laughed, thinking she was telling a joke. She said, No, really, it blew up. We hurried down to the Labor and Delivery waiting room to watch it on the television there. Such a heaviness and sadness the rest of the day.

  2. We were living near Fresno, CA at that time. My son was in elementary school watching on TV since a teacher was on board so he saw the whole thing while he was watching. Terrible thing for all the children to see.