Saturday, January 28, 2017

Operation AXIOM | The Stars My Destination

Thirty-one years ago to the day, 28 January 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) exploded during launch, killing her crew of seven: Francis R. "Dick" Scobee, commander; Michael Smith, pilot; Ellison Onizuka, mission specialist; Judith Resnik, mission specialist; Ronald McNair, mission specialist; Gregory Jarvis, payload specialist; & Christa McAuliffe, payload specialist. The Challenger's mission, STS-51-L, which was to deploy a communications satellite & conduct observations of Halley's Comet, was more high profile than most Space Shuttle missions as 'twas the first flight of the Teacher in Space Project, with public schoolteacher Mrs. McAuliffe having been selected as an astronaut specifically for the ambitious educational outreach.

Because of the excitement around the Teacher in Space mission, I was watching the Challenger launch live on T.V. in my elementary school. I was six years-old & in the first grade, to turn seven the following summer. I was too young, I think, to really understand what had happened; so, while I was saddened by the continuous replaying of the explosion on television for the next several weeks, I cannot say that I was traumatized by the disaster, though I do remember it clearly.

The motion Picture Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, released in the summer of '86, was dedicated "to the men & women of the spaceship Challenger whose courageous spirit shall live to the 23rd century & beyond." On the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which debuted in '87, a shuttlecraft seen in multiple episodes was named after Colonel Onizuka, the first Asian-American astronaut.

The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed seventy-three seconds after liftoff by the explosive failure of a Solid Rocket Booster, killing her crew of seven, 28 January 1986, thirty-one years ago today.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

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