It was a typical South Florida morning, if a bit chilly. I was, also typically, running late for school. I was a student at Palm Beach Junior College, in my final semester there as a theatre major. My folks were bustling about the house getting ready for work, and while I knew there was to be a shuttle launch that morning, I was too busy to pay much attention to it. The radio was on in the kitchen, tuned to the Miami station my mom likes, but the morning talk show never really interested me. Then, as I was leaving the bathroom to head out to my room to finish getting ready, I heard the phrase, 'we have lost communication with the Challenger'. Now, at this point in time the sounds of radio coverage of the shuttle launches were commonplace, so anything out of the ordinary caught my attention. 'Lost communication with the Challenger' did just that, and I stopped and grabbed the tv remote. I remember hearing words like 'explosion' and 'accident', but nothing prepared me for the first replay of that doomed launch. Everything looked fine at first. Huge clouds of steam, bright orange flames, that improbable conglomeration of cylinders and cones lifting gracefully into the air...then that awful flash of flames from the starboard motor, and an expanding white cloud, horned by the uncontrolled remains of the solid rocket boosters as they veered away from the carnage. After the initial shock wore off I called my friends, at least the ones who would have been awake that early in the morning, and told them to turn on their tv's.
It's hard to believe that it has been twenty years since that morning. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I suppose this is the Kennedy assasination of my generation. If you would like to share your memories of that day, or any thoughts on the shuttle or NASA, please post them.
Requiescant in pace.