Challenger Disaster - 29 years ago - 01/28/1986

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    Jan 29, 2015 2:57 PM GMT
    It's slightly belated, but the space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred 29 years ago, yesterday. Story and video at the link.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/28/the-space-shuttle-challenger-exploded-29-years-ago-today-heres-the-speech-ronald-reagan-gave-that-night/

    From the story:

    It was 29 years ago today that the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. Twenty-nine years. I still remember it vividly. As a third-grader at Elmer Thienes Elementary School, we were all gathered around TVs to watch the launch because Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, was set to be the first civilian in space. The shock of the explosion is something that has stayed with me over the intervening three decades; it was the seminal moment of my -- and, I suspect, many peoples' -- childhood.

    President Ronald Reagan was supposed to give his State of the Union address that night. After hearing about the explosion just before noon -- the Christian Science Monitor did a nice look-back at Reagan's day -- he scrapped that plan and instead delivered what is widely regarded as one of the finest speeches of his presidency. (You can read it here.) It was short -- 650 words and less than five total minutes in delivery -- but contains perhaps Reagan's most-quoted line: "We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them ... as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye ... and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."
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    Jan 30, 2015 9:57 PM GMT
    In fairness, it was Peggy Noonan's script and Ron delivered it like the consummate professional actor he was.
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    Jan 30, 2015 10:48 PM GMT
    Actually, the last week of January is sort of a jinxed week for NASA.
    Apollo 1 fire, Jan 27, 1967 (during my birthday party in fact - we had a rocket cake and everything icon_sad.gif )
    Challenger Explosion, Jan 28, 1986
    Columbia Disintegration, Feb 1 2003

    And... those lines are from a famous poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr., a 19-year old Canadian* pilot who died, shortly after writing it, during WWII.

    High Flight
    "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air....

    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

    (Even farther from the topic, I now have no idea what Magee's nationality was. I always thought he was British. Wikipedia say's he was American. Born in China, Schooled in England. Flew for the Canadians. Kid got around.)
  • tj85016

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    Jan 31, 2015 12:34 AM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 saidIn fairness, it was Peggy Noonan's script and Ron delivered it like the consummate professional actor he was.


    true, that fool never had an original thought in his little mind
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    Jan 31, 2015 1:50 AM GMT

    I remember watching this live on TV. Imagine what the poor families on the ground were going through watching this. Although it seems a bit wrong to watch them go through this pain, it's also interesting from another point of view to witness how people often go through excitement in life to complete devastation. You can see in their faces how they go from disbelief to shock.
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    Jan 31, 2015 2:20 AM GMT
    I misread the opening post as meaning that the mature hunky muscle daddy OP was in 3rd grade when the Challenger exploded.
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    Jan 31, 2015 7:20 PM GMT
    I mean no disrespect towards the memory of the disaster, but i do find this article to be a bit of journalistic jumping-the-gun. Why not wait until 2016 for the 30th anniversary?
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    Jan 31, 2015 8:37 PM GMT
    ugh; 29/30 no matter, same difference.

    i was living in Tucson AZ at the time, had neighbors over that night.

    Spending ~.0001 of gnp
    would be nice if we had a single national tech project, not necessarily space related? Give a technology focus. A doable project that is slightly out of bounds for any single none government organization to fund/manage.
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    Jan 31, 2015 8:47 PM GMT
    Remember it vividly. I was a 3rd yr med student on my internal medicine rotation rounding on a patient at Parkland Hosp in Dallas who happened to have her TV on. We just sat there in disbelief with out mouths open. It was so surreal. I remember thinking about those students in New Hampshire who were so excited about their teacher being aboard.
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    Feb 01, 2015 7:16 PM GMT
    It is a shame they didn't design a bit more survivability into the crew compartment, as it remained intact with all the crew almost certainly still alive (though probably unconscious, due to in-flight loss of crew module pressure) after the explosion, before then breaking up on impact with the ocean surface. The addition of parachutes and air bags (a la the Apollo command module) and an independent oxygen supply in the crew compartment could well have saved the crew. It is easy to say with hindsight though. Such a catastrophic failure of the Shuttle was never envisaged.
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    Feb 03, 2015 7:25 AM GMT
    After reviewing two failures, NASA (lead by the astronaut corps) decided that never again would there be a side-mounted crew vehicle. There was just no way to make it safe. (IIRC, the original NASA spaceplane design was for a top-mounted vehicle, much like the current Blue Origins design.)

    The only successful deployment of a crew escape system was a 1983 Soyuz launch, which separated two seconds before the booster exploded on the pad. icon_eek.gif
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_7K-ST_No._16L

    A review of the (known) list of space exploration fatalities and especially the near misses, can be hair-raising.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spaceflight-related_accidents_and_incidents

    Remember back in the 90's when word Came Down From On High that western companies should stop contracting satellite launches with the Chinese? They had basically zero range safety and their crap was falling out of the sky and destroying villages left and right. The number of people killed is still unknown.
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    Feb 03, 2015 7:33 AM GMT
    eagermuscle saidI misread the opening post as meaning that the mature hunky muscle daddy OP was in 3rd grade when the Challenger exploded.


    Shameless whore.