Friday, January 28, 2011

Up Way Before The Sun 25 Years After The Space Shuttle Challenger Blew Up

I am up way before the sun on the last Friday of the first month of 2011.

It is currently a relatively balmy 11 degrees above freezing.

I was surprised when I saw that today marks a quarter century, 25 years, since the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up soon after it was launched.

I do not remember if I was watching that launch live, or not. Were launches even carried live at this point? Again, I don't remember. Had CNN been born by January 28, 1986? I don't remember.

But, I suspect this launch was covered live due to school teacher Christa McAuliffe being on board.

The idea of sending a school teacher into space as some sort of stunt seems sort of bizarre to me now, 25 years later.

The coolest thing I've seen since I've been in Texas, even cooler than my first Ice Storm experience, was the night landing of a Space Shuttle. We'd been told what time to watch the western sky. I was starting to think this was going to be a dud when suddenly a bright white ball of light appeared above the barn. Moving incredibly fast.

I don't remember which of the Space Shuttles this was. As it streaked across the sky the Space Shuttle left a glowing trail behind it. Most spectacular thing I have ever seen above me. Ten minutes later I was inside watching the Space Shuttle land in Cape Canaveral.

And now the era of Space Shuttles is about to end, with America once again not having a manned space flight program.

Way back when the Challenger blew up could anyone have imagined a scenario where America would be relying on the Soviets, which is what we called Russians back then, to take Americans to space in a Soyuz capsule?


Woolysheep said...

I was in middle school when the Shuttle blew up. I was in gym class when a teacher bolted through the door and just blurted it out. All of us were just floored.

I remember seeing a night landing come over NTX too. Or more precisely a very early morning landing. I had my clock radio set to wake me up in the morning and it happened that the DJ mentioned that the shuttle was about to go over. I rushed outside in my nightgown just in time to see a white light like a shooting star go over my house. It was amazing. I also had the fun of seeing the space shuttle come in to Carswell on the back of it's transport plane. That was way cool. They moved so slow I was amazed that the thing stayed in the air.

It's hard to believe we are not doing manned flights anymore. Hopefully once the economy comes back and the money is there we will get our folks back up there and working again.

Durango said...

WoolySheep, all I know for certain about how I came to learn the Challenger had blown up was I was not in school when I learned of the disaster. I think probably someone called me to tell me to turn on my TV. That is what happened on 9/11. someone called to tell me to turn on my TV, turned it on just as the second plane crashed in to the second tower.

Was the night landing you saw before 1999? As in before I moved here? Because I'd hate to think I'd missed another one. It would certainly be worth getting up in the middle of the night to see.

I wish I'd know to come see the Shuttle land at Carswell. I did see a lot of good photos of it. I did see a Stealth Fighter flying at Carswell once. That is one scary plane.