Challenger disaster, 31 years later

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

Long before the Internet became a service used daily, television brought the world to our living rooms.

Around that box the families huddled daily. And as we did we saw events through a brightly lit screen of varying importance. Many of those events were mundane, but every now and then an event flashed across the screen that forever became a part of our memory.

I wasn’t alive for the moon landing broadcasts. Had I been I’m sure I would remember them fondly just like those who did watched them live.

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However, there are two events that occurred in my lifetime I will remember forever, 9-11, and the Challenger disaster.

Today is the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, occurring on Jan. 28, 1986.

Even though I was only 9-years-old, I can still recall seeing the images of the space shuttle explosion being played over and over like a song on repeat.

The tragedy struck children most of all at that time because it was the first time NASA tried to put a teacher in space. Naturally, educators at the time felt the need to incorporate the incident in their lesson plans, for good reason.

It took some time for NASA to find and report the cause of the accident, and when the cause was released it did little to ease the minds of those who witnessed the end of seven astronauts lives and subsequently space shuttle flights for years afterwards.

The fact that so many missions before that one went off without a hitch only made the tragedy that much more substantial.

It reinforced the fact that space travel is a dangerous endeavor, meant only for those willing to take the risk.

But what that incident taught me, is that risk is necessary to advance society’s knowledge, and at times that could mean tragedy for those involved.

As the United States moves towards missions to Mars, I have my fingers crossed that we won’t see a broadcast like that of the Challenger mission.