30th anniversary of Challenger disaster today (Jan 28)
Today is the 30th anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger on the morning of January 28, 1986, with the death of all seven astronauts aboard.
Time sure flies... I was a high school freshman when Challenger happened. I had skipped school that day to get the fields worked up in preparation for planting cotton a couple months later. I remember it was a gorgeous, sunshiny day, much like we had here today, but a bit chilly... I was bundled up pretty good on our old open-station Ford 6600 tractor running the hipper across the field and daydreaming. I knew a shuttle was scheduled to lift off that morning and wanted to see it, but I had a lot of work to get done.
Dad had gotten off work at 6 am and had been asleep since he got home. He came down to the field in the truck and picked me up so we could go eat lunch at Grandma's... when I got in the truck he told me "the shuttle blew up". I figured that he'd seen some of the coverage on TV and saw the boosters separate, paired with the big plume of exhaust from the separation motors going off on the SRB's as they are pushed away from the shuttle stack, it does look something like an explosion, and since he didn't particularly care about the space program or know much of anything about it, I figured that was what he saw. When we got to Grandma's, sure enough it was all over the TV. We ate lunch and watched the coverage, and I had to go back to the field. I popped a tape into my new-fangled VCR, a Sears top-loader that I had bought on clearance just before Christmas with part of my farm income from the previous year... It set me back $350, which was a LOT of money in 1986! (such a VCR now wouldn't even be sold for $20 bucks at the dollar store... too primitive). I popped in a VHS and set it to record on the slowest speed, so I could watch all the coverage later on. Very sad day...
All three channels (yes, back then we had 4 channels on VHF, one of which was PBS, so all three networks) covered the shuttle around the clock, so it seemed, that first day. I think Dan Rather must have broadcast for about 12 hours straight. Of course 95% of it was rehashing of events, since there was very little "new" to report on that first day...
Respects and remembrance for the families, and now grown children, of the Challenger 7...
Later! OL J R
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