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Saturday January 28, 2006 12:15 am

7 Myths About the Challenger Disaster


Posted by John Goulden Categories: Microsoft


Challenger ExplosionTo divert from our normal gadget news, where were you twenty years ago?  For those of you too young to remember, tomorrow, January 28th, 2006 marks the 20th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.  I distinctly remember being in school when the news broke, and watching with the rest of the class, the news on TV as we tried to absorb it all.  My classmates and I were too young to have first-hand knowledge of the Apollo 1 event, and the tragedy unfolding before us was a shock of the highest magnitude.  James Oberg, a columnist at MSNBC who spent 22 years at NASA, has an article describing 7 myths of the disaster, and what the facts really are. 


Read More | MSNBC


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Forum Discussion

this doesnt really have anything to do with conspracies… its just that people do not understand what really happened and this msnbc guy is trying to clear up any confusion.

I am not old enough to remember this, but the pictures are cool!

I’m a whole lot older than most of you - old enough to remember earlier launch disasters. I also had a personal interest in that particular flight, as Christa MacAuliffe’s parents were acaquaintances of mine. As the article states, there had been repeated scrubs of that mission in the past couple of weeks because of technical problems and unsuitable weather conditions. That morning, everything seemed to be a go, and I sat down in my living room to watch… only to have my cable shut down just as Christa MacAuliffe was waving to everyone. It was a non-payment shut-off.. and I literally jumped right into my car to run down to the cable company to pay the bill so that I could at least see the interviews after launch.

I walked into their storefront office - the room was full of people all of them turned to stare up at the the television suspended from the ceiling where CNN was replaying the launch for the first time. As Initation says above - the pictures are cool. It was.. awesomely, eerily beautiful, and in the split seconds before anyone realized what had just happened, I’m certain I’m not the only one who was awestruck at the plumes of smoke.. and then the launch commentator said something like.. “I think something has gone wrong..” and it all sunk in that we’d just watched seven people die.

Well, no. That didn’t sink in quite yet. There were a lot of us who wanted to believe that they’d find the cabin intact, with the astronauts alive - even though it was unreasonable. Oberg is right.. it’s only fitting that we remember the Challenger and its astronauts the way it really happened. They, and we, deserve that much.

I remember sitting in Plant Science class when this happened.  Back then, the Space Shuttle launching was a big deal and we would all watch each and every one of them on the television. 

At first, we didn’t even know what had happened.  It was that sort of disbelief that kind of made you deny what you had just, so obviously, seen.  Then the awe and shock set in. 

I was never overly emotional, but I cried that day, for those people.  I’ll never forget it.  It was the last time I watched a launching.

maybe thats why nobody watches launches anymore - they dont wan tto see more people die

It is amazing it was 20 years ago.  Was not a good day.  Unfortunately I remember back to the hope that the space shuttle program offered.  After the space program fizzled out in the 70’s, we had Reagan and Nasa renewing a space prominence with the shuttle program.  We saw mock-ups and diagrams and plans for Space Shuttles to be taking off and landing on a daily basis, eventually.

I know a lot of good research took place on the many Space Shuttle Missions over the years, but I have to think upon reflection that we have to view the program as an overall failure.  I don’t think it really achieved any of the original objectives it had, that is for sure.

I’m not so sure about that, Triumph. We’re still launching ourselves into space, and learning new things. I still remember sitting in front of the little black and white tv in my grandmother’s kitchen to watch the first man walk on the moon. The other day, I had a totally surreal experience - sitting here listening to my 20 year old stepdaughter explaining to my 12 and 14 year old sons that the whole moon landing and moon walk was a huge fake that was filmed in the Utah deserts - and she had proof, she said, because she’d watched this tv show that told all about how it was done. I know it’s a popular conspiracy theory, but it was so bizarre listening to someone I know be so cynical about it all.

I’m not so sure about that, Triumph. We’re still launching ourselves into space, and learning new things. I still remember sitting in front of the little black and white tv in my grandmother’s kitchen to watch the first man walk on the moon. The other day, I had a totally surreal experience - sitting here listening to my 20 year old stepdaughter explaining to my 12 and 14 year old sons that the whole moon landing and moon walk was a huge fake that was filmed in the Utah deserts - and she had proof, she said, because she’d watched this tv show that told all about how it was done. I know it’s a popular conspiracy theory, but it was so bizarre listening to someone I know be so cynical about it all.

I have a pretty strong affinity to the space program. I was actually born at the time the first man walked on the moon.  The local newspapers in Chicago wanted my parents to name me after one of the astronauts.  However my parents would not do it unless there was something in it for me, perhaps a savings bond or scholarship or something.  So I did not end up being buzzed.

That being said, I know when the Shuttle program launched the expectation was we would be moving into space in the next 30 years.  The disasters were huge setbacks, really overshadowing any progress made.  As far as I know the shuttles are being completely phased out and other than trying to get to Mars we really do not have much to replace them.

I think the driving force behind all our space advancements can be attributed to the cold war with the former Soviet Union. It is why we raced to the moon, and it is really why we launched the Shuttle program. With no such impetus we seem to be dawdling and lost.

We’ve shifted a lot of the focus from manned space flight to unmanned space probes. I’ll admit that it’s not a huge passion for me - but it is for my son, so I keep half an eye on what’s going on. Add to that the fact that a good friend is a rocket scientist (yes literally smile) working for NASA - I’m not as ready to say Last Rites over the space program. It’s a lot more quiet - in part because of the disasters and in part because of the uproar about the money that’s spent on space exploration, but it very definitely is still there.

I was news director at a radio station when the disaster struck - I was in a 1978 Chevy Nova gathering news when it came over the radio - man, did I have a busy day. Yep, remember it well.

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