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Thursday, January 27, 2011

challenger explosion

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1/28: Letters , Memories of the Challenger disaster

challenger explosion
Awe turns to shock, and a nation mourns 7 heroes
In January 1986, we were operating the Garden Patch on Church Street. There were delays sending the shuttle up, and I had to go to the bank.
As I was standing in line, I asked the man who walked in behind me if the shuttle had gone up. He looked back at me with tears in his eyes and said the shuttle blew up. I stepped out of line and went outside, looking to the east. In the clear-blue sky, over the First Presbyterian Church steeple and cross, was the plume of smoke from the explosion.
I was in awe of what I saw — the church steeple, the cross and the impression of the eerie cloud in the sky.
My vantage point was either ironic or exemplified the contrast between what we think of as good and evil.

Dick Larsen Orlando
On the morning of the Challenger launch, I stood in our back field and watched the shuttle rise into a beautifully clear-blue sky. When plumes and trails of white smoke suddenly jutted in all directions, I raced back into the house in time to hear that an anomaly had occurred. That word seemed so insignificant to describe the horror of what we all could see and the disbelief we all felt.
I hoped that one of the trails of debris falling to the ocean was not, in fact, debris but the capsule that had been blown away from the tank and that the astronauts were actually safe. Later when we knew that wasn't the case, I then hoped that they never knew what happened. It was the only solace.
Patricia Waring Orlando
Working at a local advertising agency, finishing my student internship and preparing for graduation from college, I was consumed with my own needs that day. Copying, filing, typing and working with the art team on a big project, I paid little attention to the launch of the Challenger. A few of the staff stepped outside to watch. Then I heard the scream, "Oh no, oh sweet God, no!" I rushed outside and saw the plumes of smoke and pieces of something falling from the sky. We gathered around a small television in the lobby and listened to the news reports.
I learned the life lesson that college cannot always prepare students who feel invincible: Life is precious, it is fragile, and it can be heartbreakingly brief and end tragically.
And I walked to my small corner of the office, and I wept.
Chuck Bailey Leesburg
Today I will attend the ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. The tragedy remains clear in my mind.
As an architect, I was inspired to design a memorial acknowledging the bravery of the Challenger crew. Ultimately, the design of the Astronauts' Memorial was the result of an international design competition. Within weeks, after meeting with then-Congressman Bill Nelson, who had just completed a mission on the shuttle Columbia, we concluded that raising funds would be critical to the effort.
I focused my time with a few great community friends in Orange and Brevard counties. We conceived the Astronauts' Memorial Foundation, which worked with the Florida Legislature to create the Florida Challenger license plate. This was the primary funding source for the Astronauts' Memorial, which is now a focal point at Kennedy Space Center.
Alan C. Helman Chair emeritus, Astronauts' Memorial Foundation
I was working part-time at a corporation near the University of Central Florida. We walked outside the office building to watch the launch with some men from China who were here for a training project. It was fun to see their reaction to Challenger's take-off. They were clapping and jumping up and down.
When the shuttle blew apart, we didn't know what had happened. We thought (or hoped) it was a rocket booster and not the shuttle. Once inside the building, we heard the terrible news. We all went outside again to stare at the remaining smoke. Now those same Chinese men were crying. It wasn't just our shuttle. They expressed the emotions we were all feeling.
Diana Hill Orlando
I was the master control director at WFTV-Channel 9. Pam Johnston was our reporter at Cape Canaveral. It was bitterly cold. Shuttle launches had become quite predictable by this time, and we were the only local station to break into our scheduled programming for a special report.
Our anchors on the news desk turned the coverage over to Pam shortly before lift-off. She outlined the mission goals, and we joined the countdown from NASA Mission Control. The main engines ignited, and Challenger rose majestically, just as it always had before.
Pam turned to the camera, smiling, and stated, "Another picture-perfect launch." "Go with throttle up, 104 percent" was heard on NASA Select audio. Shortly thereafter, the indelible image we remember today formed in the sky. That terrible vision of smoke, flame and wayward solid rocket boosters tumbling through the air, taking with them the lives of seven brave astronauts.
Godspeed, Challenger, we remember.

I was serving lunch to about 1,000 middle- and high-schoolers that day. To add to our excitement, one of our own teachers was a nominee to go on the fateful flight. He wore his orange flight suit all day. While lunch was being served, the noise in the room went from loud and chatty to shrieks and crying and then to solemn, quiet reserve. The principal's voice was heard on the public-address system to try to calm and comfort us. There would be no comfort the rest of that day.
I had seen every launch since John Glenn made his first trip around our Earth. I witnessed the shooting of the madman who assassinated our beloved John F. Kennedy.
This tragic day brought us to our knees with grief and sadness, especially for Christa McAuliffe, a woman who was so full of life and who had devoted her life to teaching children.
Chrisenda Smith Haines City

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