Where Were You During the Challenger Tragedy?

A look back at an event that shocked the nation.

Twenty-seven years ago today, America witnessed the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Delayed by almost a week, the shuttle mission on Jan. 28, 1986, was especially momentous, as it marked the launch of President Ronald Reagan's Teacher in Space Project. Concord, NH, teacher Christa McAuliffe was onboard the shuttle to become the first civilian teacher in space.

A little more than a minute after launch, the shuttle exploded and broke apart, killing all seven crew members onboard. Later reports revealed that a faulty O-ring had been the cause of the distaster.

Millions of Americans watched the tragedy unfold on TV, including many students because of McCauliffe's role in the mission.

Where were you during the Challenger launch and subsequent disaster? Did you watch it on TV, or hear about it afterward?

Discuss in the comments below.

Dan Force January 28, 2013 at 05:25 PM
I remember that day vividly. I was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59) that was homeported in Jacksonville/Mayport, FL. When the ship was in port I’d usually watch the shuttles lift off since the space center was only about 90 miles down the coast. Their trajectory would usually take them right up over Jacksonville as they head out over the Atlantic. But for some reason I forgot to step out on deck at launch time that day. As news of the tragedy spread many of us onboard rushed topside for a look. When I got up there the distinctive smoke trails caused by the breakup of the rockets were still fresh and easily visible. As I recall, the other aircraft carrier (USS Saratoga CV-60 (the one now moored at NAVSTA Newport)) was deployed and we were certain that Forrestal would be called to assist with recover of the space shuttle wreckage. But, we weren’t. Dan
Kay January 28, 2013 at 05:41 PM
I was eating a roastbeef grinder after school, with three of my best friends growing up....at Michaels Pizza next to Cumberland Farms on East Main. Unfortunately Michael's is no longer there...they had the best Grinders!!! I do remember all four of us seeing the explosion on the TV behind the counter in the restaurant. I don't think we really knew what had happened at that time...we were probibly about 14yrs old.
Jill Giggey January 28, 2013 at 11:36 PM
In HS Sr English class watching it live as many classrooms around the country were. There was always a lot of interest but, as this article notes, this one was so much more with Christa McAuliffe taking part. I remember feeling great empathy for family members of those astronauts and Ms McAuliffe's class who, like so many of us, watched the Space Shuttle explode. Everyone was speechless.
Robert E January 28, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Kay Michael's is now No. End Pizza. Different name same place
Alice Perras January 29, 2013 at 03:49 PM
With my husband stationed with the Commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, I was a teacher at Schofield Elementary School in Wahiawa, Oahu, Hawaii. Like many Americans and schools across the country, our school was also watching the historic moment of the launch, with the first teacher aboard, lift into space. With the explosion, our campus had heavy hearts as a deafening hush cover it for one of our students was Christa McAuliffe's niece....


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