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Thursday, January 28, 2016

30 Years Ago Today. The Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes. We Remember the Astronauts. The Imaginarium.

Crew of mission STS-51 L, lost January 28, 1986

Commander Francis R Scobee
Pilot Michael J Smith
Judith A Resnik
Ellison S Onizuka
Ronald E McNair
Gregory B Jarvis
Sharon Christa McAuliffe

January 28, 1986. The Challenger Accident

Hello Troops,
     Today is the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. We celebrated the seven hero astronauts who died in that accident in each of my three math classes. I wanted my students to understand what happened and why. I urged them to remember that the Challenger astronauts died pursuing their dreams. They were pioneers, blazing a trail into the future for us to follow. 
      School teacher Christa McAuliffe was one of the Challenger Seven. The Space Education Center I founded was named in her honor. It is a tribute to her love of learning and her desire to motivate America's school children to dream big, work hard, and forge ahead overcoming all obstacles to reach their goals.  The Space Center is a testament to the fact that great things can rise from the ashes of tragedy. 
     I want to thank all those who've worked with me over the years to continue Christa's mission. We've done well. I'm sure she'd be proud of what we've accomplished together.

Mr. Williamson    

Wreckage of Challenger during recovery from Atlantic ocean.

Thoughts by Mark Daymont
Farpoint Voyagers Educator

     While we commemorate the loss of the crew, and recognize the courage of those who explore space and understand the value of the risk, let's also remember why it happened. I'm not talking about the actual failure of the frozen o-ring which allowed hot gas to escape the solid rocket motor. I'm talking about the failure of leadership. Someone was too eager to please superiors and succumbed to the pressure of a schedule, ignoring warnings from those who understood the danger. Seven lives were lost. The failure was doubled later, when those guilty of the failure tried to cover up their mistakes by blaming and persecuting the very engineer and team that warned them about the danger.

May NASA and ATK (formerly Thiokol) never make that mistake again.

Challenger in orbit, picture taken from the SPAS satellite.

     After the accident, America endured a period of waiting while engineers and scientists examined the cause of the accident and modified the shuttle boosters so that the same problem would not occur. Let's also remember that there were great sacrifices made by NASA and contractor workers to solve the problems and get us flying again. Eventually, shuttle Discovery returned our nation to space travel.
     We need to encourage private companies to continue their work on new launch vehicles and crew capsules which will give us alternatives to just one government launch system. With the competitive nature of Boeing, Lockheed, Space X, and Virgin Galactic, we look forward to a more prosperous space travel scenario.

The Imaginarium

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