The Challenger Disaster, 30 years later
Please stop in your day and take a moment to remember the Crew of STS-51L, who all perished on this day, January 28, 1986. Pictured here, the crew pose for their official portrait on November 15, 1985. In the back row from left to right: Ellison S. Onizuka, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judy Resnik. In the front row from left to right: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ron McNair. The shuttle they flew was called the Challenger: a challenger was someone who defied expectations, who disputed what could be done or what was known, who attempted a difficult task or problem. These seven people did not see space as an empty void but rather as the next step in a series of steps ever upward, ad astra. It was for them not a challenge at all but a privilege to fly, and they did so willingly, hopefully, happily, taking all of our hopes and dreams with them. I watched this launch live with my high school science teacher Terry Uselton (who had applied for the Teacher in Space program) and remember both the excitement and promise that morning and the horrible aftermath.
To these seven people and their families, I say thank you for daring to challenge us all with your determination and bravery. And to the tens of thousands at NASA and its contractors and affiliates around the world, I say thank you for devoting your lives to science to make my life and world better. And to Terry Uselton, thanks, Teach, I’m still working in my own way on science!
Image courtesy NASA, in the public domain.