Where Were You January 28, 1986?


For the youth of the 80's, January 28, 1986 was our "Where were you when...?" moment. It was the day of the ill fated launch of the space shuttle Challenger which claimed the lives of its seven crew members.

Me? I was seated in a small "television" room in Bear Creek Elementary in Bend, Oregon. Our class was there to see the momentous historical moment when a teacher named Christa McAuliffe, would be the first civilian launched into space. What many of us didn't understand was the reasoning for the abrupt turning off of the television less than two minutes after launch. Though we would learn that day that a tragedy had occurred, for those of us too young to truly understand, we quickly moved on with our normal way of life, unaware of the impact on our nation, the devastation to the families of the crew and the vileness of NASA.

As I continued to grow up, and up until today, I really never paid much attention to the incidents surrounding the Challenger's final flight. I chalked it up to an unfortunate event in history. That was until I watched the four part docu-series on Netflix, aptly titled, "Challenger: The Final Flight".

I was intrigued by the warning signs of the flight by the continued delays from plagues of weather and malfunctions. Wondering how all of this could be happening, but yet nobody saw it as a sign that this shuttle shouldn't launch.

It was appalling to learn that not only were the designers of the shuttle, and prior shuttles, concerned with the history of malfunctioning o-rings resting between each segment of the booster rockets, but that they made NASA aware on the day of the flight that it was too cold for launch, insisting it should be aborted. A recommendation NASA opted to ignore for no other reason than corporate bureaucrats more concerned with budgets than human life.

Even more heartbreaking is the remorseless stance of the two NASA individuals ultimately held responsible, who gave the green light to launch, even after being warned by the engineering team. Lawrence Mulloy stated while he felt he was to blame, he didn't feel any guilt for the event. The more disgusting, William Lucas, chalks the tragedy up to nothing more than, "That's the way development happened," while nonchalantly referencing his forebears who died when crossing the Appalachian Mountains by wagon. He implies that the loss of the Challenger crew was nothing more than a cost for developing civilization. How vile!

It's events like this that I can't help but cling even tighter to a hope that the Bible gives me. Even after all these decades, it's heartbreaking to see and hear the events unfolding the way they did. Regardless of the warning signs, and the obvious evidence that something bad was going to happen, it doesn't change the impact that the loss of these seven individuals had on their families and an entire nation. In fact, it makes it all the more worse.

Where were you January 28, 1986?

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