PDA

View Full Version : Where were you when you heard that Challenger had been lost?



Lord Jubjub
2011-Jan-31, 11:47 PM
I was in college (small liberal arts college) and was walking from the game room into the TV room when I heard the shuttle being talked about on the TV.

The first thing I saw on the screen was the horned white ball. My first thought, "Please don't tell me the shuttle just blew up!" My second thought was "Please don't tell me this was the flight the teacher was on!"

Felt rather numb the rest of the day.

Buttercup
2011-Feb-01, 12:11 AM
I was at home watching the last 10 minutes of "The Price is Right." My father was home sick from work. Suddenly Bob Barker was gone, replaced by a CBS Special Report. Dan Rather looked up from the paper in his hand; he was pale and haggard. I was immediately shocked and thought "Oh my God, President Reagan's been assassinated I bet!"

Then Mr. Rather spoke, and I was stunned for that other sad reason. :(

Middenrat
2011-Feb-01, 12:24 AM
Surprising, in retrospect, that the launch was available as live feed in back four-channel Eighties UK, but this was a big deal Mission and I was strapped in and grooving on the pictures with friends at a bit of a house party in downtown Slackerville, right up until the unexpected staging event - or so I at first imagined in confusion.
Nothing special to add, just want to say what a superb crew that was and witness the loss.

John Jaksich
2011-Feb-01, 12:43 AM
I was in the chem lab --at my first real job--performing a synthesis . . . .I could hear one the chemist's radio news chatter in the background saying that the Challenger had been lost---I was the only in the small 30 x 10 foot lab who heard it --and I remember saying: "Oh God!--listen to the news." I would say everyone on the floor of that particular building was completely shocked and dismayed.

Solfe
2011-Feb-01, 12:48 AM
I was in my high school cafeteria watching live. When the shuttle disappeared I recall thinking "Who changed the station?" despite the fact it was pretty obvious what happened.

grapes
2011-Feb-01, 01:12 AM
At work, in Denver CO, when a co-worker came in and said it was on the news.

KaiYeves
2011-Feb-01, 01:43 AM
Well, having been born in 1993... in my second-grade science science class about ten years after the fact.

(Feel free to delete this if it seems in bad taste.)

Romanus
2011-Feb-01, 02:02 AM
I was in Greece, where my parents were stationed. I'm one of the very few people of my generation who doesn't remember it at all; it happened long after school, local-time, and in any event my world back then was very, very narrow.

schlaugh
2011-Feb-01, 02:13 AM
I was working on a project at the Cocoa Today newspaper in Cocoa Beach that week, and I went outside with some colleagues to watch the launch. We were about 12 - 14 miles from the the Launch Complex. At first we thought the crew was trying an abort to launch site but then it was clear it was a disaster. We ran back inside and the newsroom was absolutely silent. A number of the writers and editors were crying; some of these journalists had covered the space race and knew much about the extended astronaut family. Later that day as I drove back to my hotel a cloud still hung above the ocean.

Swift
2011-Feb-01, 03:09 AM
I had a temporary job at Bear Stearns, the stock brokerage firm, and was working when one of the guys came in and said the shuttle blew up. These guys had terrible senses of humor and so we all thought he was kidding. Someone finally dragged out a portable radio and we listened to news reports. It was a long, sad commute home, and then a long evening watching it replayed over-and-over on TV.

Tinaa
2011-Feb-01, 03:19 AM
I was at work watching the launch. I couldn't step away from the TV.

Tensor
2011-Feb-01, 04:18 AM
I was on my way home from Iceland. I had heard the news, was shocked and stopped at one of the bars in Atlanta's airport and caught one of the replays. It kinda dulled the joy of coming home to the wife and daughter.

SkepticJ
2011-Feb-01, 04:40 AM
I was a baby, so I didn't know anything. Sometime during the '90s, don't remember.

Columbia, on the other hand, in the living room of the old house.
I had been following the mission on NASA TV, watching them work on orbit and everything.
I felt awful.

Van Rijn
2011-Feb-01, 04:46 AM
I was at home. I didn't watch this launch because they had become routine . . . but a friend called me. Not a fun time after that, and it hurt more when everyone learned that it should reasonably have been prevented. I lost a lot of respect for NASA then.

PetersCreek
2011-Feb-01, 04:55 AM
I was working swing shifts on the Seymour Johnson AFB flightline at the time, so I was watching it live that morning, in my living room, in base housing.

Trebuchet
2011-Feb-01, 05:18 PM
I was in the lobby at work, talking to a salesman. The receptionist answered a call, looked horrified, and said "The space shuttle blew up!"

The Backroad Astronomer
2011-Feb-01, 05:40 PM
I was getting home from school, my sister was having her sixth birthday.

ngc3314
2011-Feb-01, 06:54 PM
I was working in the Netherlands - we were just sitting down to dinner (rice and something, I recall, never finished). A friend in Huntsville called to say we'd just lost a shuttle. At the time, news was sparse enough that I wondered whether it was another orbiter that had highly publicized engine issues. The BBC news came over cable 10 minutes later, and the images burned themselves into my memory. I heard interviews with the crew replayed on NPR last weekend which, being out of the country, I hadn't heard at the time. I had to switch the radio off.

Lurking Nerd
2011-Feb-01, 07:18 PM
It was 5th grade and I was home sick so I watched the coverage and replays all day.

IsaacKuo
2011-Feb-01, 08:18 PM
I was watching it live on TV in my high school library. I didn't realize that it was live at the time. I didn't know how to react.

KaiYeves
2011-Feb-01, 08:55 PM
I was a baby, so I didn't know anything. Sometime during the '90s, don't remember.

Columbia, on the other hand, in the living room of the old house.
I had been following the mission on NASA TV, watching them work on orbit and everything.
I felt awful.

*sympathy hug*

DonM435
2011-Feb-02, 03:22 PM
I was in a cold parking lot at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station watching the launch. I'd just begun (maybe five months) working for a NASA contractor that supported the Shuttle amongst other operations.

Extravoice
2011-Feb-02, 05:31 PM
I was in a classroom at Ft Lewis, Washington, for a briefing about a military exercise (I was a civilian Army employee at the time). When we stopped for a break, someone said, "Did you hear that the Space Shuttle blew up?" My reaction was that space shuttles don't just blow up. I was wrong.

Kaptain K
2011-Feb-02, 06:33 PM
I was in a pawn shop in Austin Tx.

Torsten
2011-Feb-02, 06:36 PM
In a logging camp on the BC coast. A VHS tape of a newscast showing it arrived on the next supply flight a day later. I didn't watch it.

Trebuchet
2011-Feb-03, 01:40 AM
In a logging camp on the BC coast. A VHS tape of a newscast showing it arrived on the next supply flight a day later. I didn't watch it.

You were lucky, in a way. The rest of us watched it over and over and over.... Sort of like the WTC falling down. You couldn't avoid it.

The radio station I listened to at the time had a song on its playlist called "Burns like a rocket". It took them about three days to figure out that wasn't a great image.

Jens
2011-Feb-03, 05:16 AM
I was in a cold parking lot at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station watching the launch. I'd just begun (maybe five months) working for a NASA contractor that supported the Shuttle amongst other operations.

I hope (for your sake) it wasn't Morton-Thiokol. :)

I was in college, and wasn't watching live, but remember hearing about it and then going to watch the TV.

Jens
2011-Feb-03, 05:17 AM
My reaction was that space shuttles don't just blow up. I was wrong.

Actually, I think you're right. It didn't blow up, just experienced a structural failure.

Van Rijn
2011-Feb-03, 05:34 AM
You were lucky, in a way. The rest of us watched it over and over and over.... Sort of like the WTC falling down. You couldn't avoid it.


Yeah, I have the images burned in, and the image of the faces looking up when they're starting to realize what happened. Ouch, even mentioning that . . .

HenrikOlsen
2011-Feb-03, 12:31 PM
Actually, I think you're right. It didn't blow up, just experienced a structural failure.
And then the fuel tank, not the shuttle, blew up.

Extravoice
2011-Feb-03, 02:18 PM
And then the fuel tank, not the shuttle, blew up.

I think your average person on the street would refer to the entire stack as "the shuttle." Certainly that is what the person telling me the news meant.

Having heard the news second-hand, my initial thought was that the Orbiter had separated from the tank for a return-to-launch site abort followed by the tank/boosters purposely being destroyed.

BTW: I had commented earlier in the day that all the delays were frustrating, and NASA should "just launch the thing."

Swift
2011-Feb-03, 02:26 PM
Yeah, I have the images burned in, and the image of the faces looking up when they're starting to realize what happened. Ouch, even mentioning that . . .
Yes. Even reading this thread, it still makes me sad. Not the sharp sadness I felt at that time, but that time-worn sadness of a long-ago pain.

mike alexander
2011-Feb-03, 05:34 PM
I was in the lab in Building 10 at NIH when my wife called.

megrfl
2011-Feb-04, 02:35 PM
I was picking up lunch with a friend at a Wawa in Chadds Ford, Pa. They had a TV on and everyone just stopped what they were doing and watched in shock. We drove back to school in silence. There were no words.

KaiYeves
2011-Feb-04, 09:25 PM
I think your average person on the street would refer to the entire stack as "the shuttle." Certainly that is what the person telling me the news meant.


Technically, isn't the whole stack "the shuttle" and the bit most people would call "the shuttle" the orbiter? That's what we learned at Space Camp.

LoneTree1941
2011-Feb-26, 06:17 PM
I can well remember the day (and time) Challenger exploded; and Columbia's disaster as well - I was leveling stone sub-grade aggregate on a February Saturday morning, getting ready for a Monday morning concrete pour.

But my reason for coming to this thread is to ask anyone who remembers another shuttle event.

I drove down to KSC from Indiana in the early 80's (I believe 84) taking along my son, a pal of his, and my trusty trim carpenter to see a shuttle launch. It was winter because I had to get clearance from the boy's school to permit their absence.

The launch stopped at T minus 31s, when they engage go to auto-sequence. It was several days before the clock restarted. We couldn't hang around, although we did at least stay another day (beyond which I'm not certain), and then had to get back to Indiana.

It was well before 86 (Challenger) and was after 1982. (There were a lot of delays in 1984) Iím curious about the name of the shuttle, and the exact date/year.

It's possible someone else here suffered through that same non-event.

After that experience I swore off ever again considering making that trip for a launch; and I never got lucky enough to catch one when I was back in FL on vacation.

ravens_cry
2011-Feb-26, 08:14 PM
I wasn't even in utero yet, just a bunch of molecules that probably weren't even in my father on his side and an egg waiting to come down the fallopian tubes on my mothers side.
I, of course, knew all about it, but until recently i never got the courage to look up video of the disaster, having only seen the photos of that distinctive curling cloud. It was horrible. I knew what was going to happen, I didn't know exactly when, I just knew it would. And then it did, and I wept for those long dead.
As I have said before, now I know how a time traveller feels, the bitter bile of inevitability.
To those who have been lost so we can reach higher, may it have been worth it.

Extravoice
2011-Feb-26, 08:24 PM
I knew what was going to happen, I didn't know exactly when...

"Go at throttle-up."
To this day, I have a flashback whenever I hear those words.

Zvezdichko
2011-Feb-26, 09:34 PM
I wasn't born when Challenger had been lost, but I can say about Columbia...

I was in an internet cafe moments before terminal burn. I remember vividly that I read some news about Spirit and Opportunity and other unmanned probes and I told myself : "Why should I watch the landing of the Shuttle? We haven't lost a shuttle during landing".

Then I got back home and saw my father watching CNN. I was shocked.

Swift
2011-Feb-26, 10:59 PM
"Go at throttle-up."
To this day, I have a flashback whenever I hear those words.
Me too. Watching STS-133 take off, my heart always does a little extra beat or two when I hear that.

Donnie B.
2011-Feb-27, 12:20 AM
It may take some of the sting out to realize that the throttle-up had no causal connection to the explosion. Or maybe it wouldn't.

I was at work. I worked for a company that had a role in the technology for stereo analog TV, so we often had televisions on hand to test them for compliance. At some point, someone from the front office told us, "The shuttle blew up on the pad!" We (engineers and techs) then used one of the test TVs to watch the replay. It was immediately obvious that the first news was wrong, which gave me some hope. Then we saw the fireball. I said, "Oh, they're dead." It was a very sobering moment.

jrkeller
2011-Feb-28, 02:45 PM
I was on the campus of the University of Texas. I was walking on Speedway, half way between 24th and 21st, when I heard two students talking and one of them said something, "It was going up and then it just exploded.

My ex-wife who lived acrossed from the Johnson Space Center while she attended high school, was dating the Mike Smith's son [the shuttle pilot] at the time of the accident.

jfribrg
2011-Feb-28, 06:54 PM
I was about 20 miles away from there, working at my first white collar job. One of the secretaries had the radio on, and we all listened to it. Being lunch time, we walked next door to a restaurant that had a TV in the bar area and watched the replays.

For Columbia, I was driving through Florida from PA on my way to visit the in-laws. We noticed all of the flags flying at half staff and wondered why. We didn't see any flags at half staff in any of the states north of there so we thought that maybe the governor of Florida had recently died. My second thought was that since the governor was the President's brother, we would have heard about it. I figured that sooner or later we'd learn the reason. Of course the real reason we didn't see any half staff flags in Georgia was that the shuttle was still in orbit. It broke up when we were in Jacksonville. Anyway, after sitting on I-4 for several hours in a traffic jam, it was evening and we were very hungry so we went to a Chinese restaurant in Lakeland. The TV was on and we saw the news. Suddenly, I lost my appetite completely. I forced myself to eat something, then we all piled back into the van and continued our trip.

KaiYeves
2011-Mar-02, 08:55 PM
I wasn't born when Challenger had been lost, but I can say about Columbia...

I was in an internet cafe moments before terminal burn. I remember vividly that I read some news about Spirit and Opportunity and other unmanned probes and I told myself : "Why should I watch the landing of the Shuttle? We haven't lost a shuttle during landing".

Then I got back home and saw my father watching CNN. I was shocked.

Ouch. Sorry, Zvez.


It may take some of the sting out to realize that the throttle-up had no causal connection to the explosion. Or maybe it wouldn't.
I think the irony of the fact that the communication was something that basically meant "Everything's okay, let's go!" adds to the sting.


Me too. Watching STS-133 take off, my heart always does a little extra beat or two when I hear that.
Same. Even during the simulations at Space Camp. (Which I guess was kind of silly, because the councilors wouldn't have done that to us.)