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  Your Challenger Memories

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Author Topic:   Your Challenger Memories
ASCAN1984
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From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
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posted 01-28-2006 01:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What are your memories of mission STS 51L which launched 20 years ago today?

randy
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From: West Jordan, Utah USA
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posted 01-28-2006 01:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at work that day. Someone said there was a fire on the Shuttle, and I thought no way. Then I saw it on the news that night and thought 'this is one of the worst days in American history'. I wondered what would happen to the space program, because I knew the critics would come out of the woodwork with every argument against the space program they could. But, as they say, the rest is history-the space program came back stronger than it was before and moved forward from there.

AstronautBrian
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posted 01-28-2006 01:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at school in the first grade. My class did not watch the launch, but my teacher did. She came back to class crying and told us what happened. I knew what the space shuttle was (saw Atlantis launch Nov. 85) and knew it was a terrible thing that it had blown up. The other classmates didn't seem too concerned. I don't remember much else than a general sadness in the air.

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385th Bombardment Group (H)

RMH
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posted 01-28-2006 04:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was in high school in between classes at my locker when a fellow clssmate said the shuttle had blew up. At first I though he was just joking, this couldn't really happen, but soon realized the aweful truth. I had to wait several more hours before I could get home to watch the news and see and find out what had happened. I spent the rest of the day and night just watching the news.

kyra
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From: Louisville CO US
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posted 01-28-2006 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember this from school as well. It was all pretty callous the way it was handled. I heard it in the hallway, then a teacher mentioned it questioningly scratching his head "Something about the shuttle blowing up ?" It was another two hours before our principal annonced it to us "As you have all probably heard the Space Shuttle crew with teacher Christa McAuliffe was lost today". Some looked at each other for a moment then we carried on with our lesson about 5 minutes later, diagramming sentences, etc.

Nobody really talked about it, except really unrepeatable jokes from some of the jock kids. I remember one of them teasing me "Did you cwy becaws the shuttle went boom ?" The Chicago burbs were cold and gloomy that day, and I split wood when I got home.
We had scalloped potatoes for dinner. My dad recorded a few hours on VHS tape and gave it to me, since he knew I would be interested.

I was really alone after that, all I heard at school in the weeks after were even more sick jokes now and then. Nothing constructive or relevant. It was a tough time. I saved the news on VHS on the same tape. And then they found the cabin...

Sad, but I don't ever recall a good cry. Its like those of us in the rural suburbs were supposed to be tough. Nobody cried that I recall. It was a different time and place, but I'm glad I finally got to put it into a narrative of that day.


OV-105
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posted 01-28-2006 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems like it happened yesterday. I was in 10th grade. I had watched CNN all morning before going to school. I knew they were not going to launch and I had told everyone that morning they would not go. Last year (1985) they delayed for a day because of the weather being too cold. Well I got to 2nd period which was auto shop and someone said the shuttle had crashed. And I was going no way they were not going to launch. Well I got to 3rd period which was p.e. and they office sent a note down that my mom said I had a DR. appointment that day and neede to go home right then. I knew something was up right then. I had the sickest feeling in my gut on the way home. My mom was out front waiting for me and all she could say is they are gone there just gone. I went right to the TV and waited to see a replay. Once I saw it I still could not belive it. The rest of the day and night was spent watching the news.

MarylandSpace
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posted 01-28-2006 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was teaching in room 112, probably keyboarding. A social studies teacher (who did not know my passion for space and space studies) came to my door and said, "The Challenger exploded." I said, "No way."

We didn't have many tv's in our classes 20 years ago but I had my transister radio in the classroom closet.

I listened to the news reports.

About an hour later, one of my vocational students said, "Did you hear the teacher exploded." I gritted my teeth. I don't remember what I said to him.

I remember President Reagan reciting John Gillespie Magee's "High Flight." (Paul Garber did it best)

I prayed.

Ken Havekotte
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From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
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posted 01-28-2006 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Twenty years ago today--Jan. 28, 1986--I was at Kennedy Space Center on that cold morning reporting on the 25th Shuttle launch from "Press Site 39." It was the 10th flight of Challenger and her crew of seven that included the first-to-be teacher in space. Most of us who witnessed first-hand the terrible destruction of Space Shuttle Challenger need nothing to remind us of the incredible event, for the sight will always be indelibly etched into our mind's eye. Few, if any, sights will endure stronger in my memory of what occurred on that somber winter day. The emotional impact of seeing right in front of your own eyes seven outstanding individuals lose their lives is too great ever to be forgotten. Even after two decades I still don't know what to say, or how to put in proper words, as the loss remains unspeakable. For the "Challenger 7," rest in peace along with the crews of STS-107/Space Shuttle Columbia, Apollo 1, and the original crew of Gemini 9.

767FO
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posted 01-28-2006 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 767FO   Click Here to Email 767FO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember just walking into the flight room having just finished a formation flight and wondering why a tv was in the room. I initially forgotten that the Shuttle launch was scheduled. All the instructors and students stopped what they were doing to watch the launch. It was truly shocking and sad to see the explosion. For the next few moments you could have heard a pin drop in the room. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

astro-nut
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From: washington, Illinois USA
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posted 01-28-2006 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at home that day. There was no school that day, due to the severe snow storm we recieved in New York. I was listening on the radio while doing some space notes on the mission and then the televisions showed coverage. I didn't have CNN that day so I only had my radio and I was listening and then I went to watch it on television. Three months later I was at the KSC and it seemed like it couldn't be real. I thought about the crew all that day and I still do daily along with Apollo-1 and STS-107 and other astronauts who have given their lives for our space program! I have met June Scobee Rodgers and she is a very pleasant person and it was an honor to meet her.

cddfspace
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From: Morris County, NJ, USA
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posted 01-29-2006 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cddfspace   Click Here to Email cddfspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was a senior in high school- we had the day of because of snow in New Jersey, a bunch of us got together to watch the launch. Amazement qucikly turned to shock- we could not believe what had just happened. Since I was not born at that time, This became my "where were you when Kennedy was shot" moment.

tegwilym
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posted 01-29-2006 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was in my 12th grade history class when the announcement came over the intercom. I was sure it exploded on the pad for some reason since I heard earlier that they weren't going to fly that day.
I told my teacher that I had to leave and find a TV. I found one in the cafeteria and watched for a long time. The image of the explosion and boosters flying alone is burned into my memory along with 9/11.

Tom

Carrie
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posted 01-29-2006 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was in junior high school, and was leaving gym class, where I had just broken one of my well-manicured fingernails halfway down into the skin playing basketball, and headed into the lunch room seeking some sympathy. I was struck immediately by the fact that the other kids were silent (that NEVER happened) and there was a somber knot of teachers standing around, several of them crying. "What happened"? I asked, and one of them told me. I found out who really needed the sympathy that day.

I hated those Christa McAuliffe jokes too. I used to get so angry with anyone who had the misfortune to tell one around me!

DavidH
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posted 01-30-2006 09:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a piece I wrote on the 17th anniversary...

I always feel a twinge of guilt on January 28.
I remember where I was when I heard. I wasn't born when Kennedy was assasinated, but like most of my generation, I remember where I was when I heard that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded.
I was in the boys' locker room for the gym at Huntsville Middle School. I was in P.E. when it happened, so I didn't watch it. It was not until later in the day that I would first see those indelible images, and thankfully knew what to expect by the time I finally saw them. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to watch that as it happened.
I was in the boys' locker room for the gym at Huntsville Middle School. We were getting ready, as the news began to spread. The boy that told me had not actually seen it, he had heard from someone else. Who in turn had no doubt heard from someone else. But the person who told me had no emperical knowledge, just the word of mouth he had heard.
I don't feel the twinge of guilt because I initially scoffed at him. I feel the twinge of guilt because I think I actually did reassure him.
That he was wrong. That he had heard wrong, or the person who had told him was wrong.
Because it could not happen. It simply couldn't.
The Space Shuttle ... the Space Shuttle, among the greatest of man's creations ... does not just blow up.
It doesn't.
I mean, for heaven's sake, it's the Space Shuttle.
It couldn't happen.
But it did.
I feel a twinge of guilt every January 28 at the thought that that student, whoever he was, had to find out twice that day that Challenger had exploded.

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http://allthese worlds.hatbag.net/space.php
"America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow." - Commander Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 Mission, 11 December 1972

PowerCat
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From: Herington, KS, USA
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posted 02-01-2006 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PowerCat   Click Here to Email PowerCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wsa working in a hospital at the time sitting at my office desk. I remember having the radio on when CBS Radio broke in and said there was a problem with Challenger and that it was returning to KSC. I thought of the RTLS maneuver and the difficulty for a Commander to perform this. I went and found a TV and soon realized the horror that had happened. Numbness and shock was felt by me the rest of the day. President's Reagan's speech to the nation to this day was my favorite with the "High Flight" closing at the end of his message. I still have that quote in my office to this very day along with President Bush's words following Columbia's tragedy.

spaceman1953
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posted 02-02-2006 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was hoping to see the launch on TV, but as all of us know, the "free" networks were not going to cover such a launch.....and I never did like paying for TV nor actually having the money for cable....
So the national news programs were done by launch time.....I had just hung up the phone talking to my mom.....she called me back moments later and asked "Hey, what happened to the Shuttle ?", and I did not know, so on goes the TV and, of course, coverage was there by then !

When that parachute was sighted, there was slight hope for everyone, that it was a crew cabin or at least one astronaut on the end of those ropes, but that was not to be.

That's how fast the TV networks came on.....

It was some of the longest days in my memory....alot like the long days after President Kennedy was shot.....

The "black humor" that followed was the toughest to deal with.....but I still choose to close my eyes or "avert my gaze" (thanks C.J.) when TV news wants to show those clips of the launch.

The newspapers and magazines are in the piles just so I know I have them, but they never get looked at. Even looking at a crew pic takes alot of courage.

Funny how the events of 9/11 have not had the effect these space accidents have had on me.....maybe 9/11 was just all too surreal, where we know hardly any of those names, we can easily recall most of the Challenger and Columbia without too much hesitation. And I never really chose to follow the shuttle flights all that much.....boy was that a mistake.....

.


GB

Mike Z
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posted 02-02-2006 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Z   Click Here to Email Mike Z     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At the time of the Challenger Accident I was working for a professional soccer team. We had a night game and I was recording the launch from NASA TV. I could not believe what I was seeing. I did NOT want to go to work that day but had to. The drive in seemed exremely long.

Before my players arrived I went to our special effects guy and he gave me a roll of black duct tape. I put a makeshift black armband on each players game jersey. I then had the trainer of the visiting team do the same. We also had a moment of silence before the National Anthem. I also had our photographjer take a picture of Michael Lashoff. He was a player of ours from the "then" Soviet Union. I sent it to my friend at JSC and she told me they put it up in their office.

Like the Kennedy Assassination, (I was in 1st grade, out sick watching TV) I will never forget that terrible day, along with the Apollo 1 fire and loss of Columbia and her crew.

ivorwilliams
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posted 02-02-2006 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was working as a driver in Central London. Whilst wating in a line of traffic, I saw a replay of the Shuttle Launch on a tv in a shop window that was tuned to CNN. I'd never seen CNN before so the whole thing was slightly surreal.

All the way home I was tuned in to Steve Wright's Radio One show which was providing live updates on the unfolding disaster.

There was much news coverage on all the TV stations and to this day, I still have around 7 hours of footage on VHS.

ivorwilliams
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posted 02-02-2006 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whilst on the subject of the Challenger disaster.

There was footage of Covey's reaction after the 'go at throttle up command', the stunned look on his face is something I'll always remember.
Could anyone tell me the name of the balding guy who was seated on Richard Covey's right when the accident occurred? Was it Fred Gregory?

[This message has been edited by ivorwilliams (edited February 02, 2006).]

PowerCat
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posted 02-03-2006 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PowerCat   Click Here to Email PowerCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could anyone tell me the name of the balding guy who was seated on Richard Covey's right when the accident occurred? Was it Fred Gregory?


I believe you are right, it was Fred Gregory. That stunned look was another picture I won't forget about that day.

ivorwilliams
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posted 02-03-2006 05:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for confirming that for me. I think that Dick Covey's stunned face and the reactions of Barbara Morgan and Christa's parents are the images I remember most vividly about that day.

mjanovec
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posted 02-03-2006 07:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The stunned face of Covey was indeed a memorable image. But seeing the face of Gene Kranz was, to me, more heartbreaking (footage can be seen in the Failure is Not An Option 2 special). He wasn't one for hiding his emotions and you can clearly see the anguish on his face. While the others looked stunned, Gene looked devastated.

ASCAN1984
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posted 02-04-2006 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Almost everyone on the christa McCauliffe Documentary and on other materials have said that they keept looking out for ~CHallenger to fly out of the cloud for RTLS. Is there anyway or seanrios that would have alowed for this?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 02-04-2006 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RTLS--No. Not in this type of situation as Challenger was still attached to her twin booster rockets when everything started to break apart. There is really nothing that can be done within the first 2.25-minutes of powered flight while the booster rockets are in use; less than 200,000 ft. altitude. A powered RTLS could only de done after the SRBs had separated from the tank.

ApolloAlex
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posted 02-04-2006 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ApolloAlex   Click Here to Email ApolloAlex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Folks,

On a sombre subject such as this i do like to choose my words carefully purely out of respect like everyone else on this topic,simply because i remember as a young lad how the news was relayed at my school at the time,we had a TV between 2 or 3 classes and for the rest of the afternoon we sat and watched all the news articles and footage that appeared on TV and then and even now the image that sends a shiver down my spine is the response from Christa McAuliffes parents as they watch the whole scenario unfold before there eyes and then you see the emotion in her mothers eyes which is so very saddening and above all else yes i too got sick of those Challenger 7 jokes also,pity some people have nothing better to do.

My very best wishes to all,

Alex.

------------------
"Why dont you fix your little problem and light this Candle?"

[This message has been edited by ApolloAlex (edited February 04, 2006).]

Astro Bill
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posted 02-12-2006 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the date of the Challenger accident. I received a call at work from a friend. It is one of those unforgettable moments.

[This message has been edited by collectSPACE Admin (edited February 12, 2006).]

Bill Hunt
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posted 02-20-2006 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill Hunt   Click Here to Email Bill Hunt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was actually in my first year of college as a journalism student. My roommate and I always made a habit of watching the launches live. We were getting ready to go to class, and I was just having breakfast. We saw it happen live - it was obvious what had happened to those who understood the vehicle and spaceflight in general. We ended up skiping classes that day, and several other friends come over and hung out with us in our flat watching the coverage, all in shock. That was a pretty tough day for anyone who supports the space program I suspect.

------------------
Bill Hunt

[This message has been edited by Bill Hunt (edited February 20, 2006).]

Philip
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posted 01-28-2007 04:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
21 years already...

Someone made a blog.

[Edited by Philip (January 28, 2007).]

cspg
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posted 01-28-2007 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
21 years, indeed but it's like yesterday. And I'm so glad I didn't see it live -I saw 9/11 live and that was the second worst day of my life.
Jan.28, 1986. I didn't have any TV channels to turn to, so I was listening to French radio to confirm that the launch went ok, but I had to wait until the 6pm news. So I turned the tv on, and just stumbled across a special news bulletin by one of the Swiss tv channel announcing that the shuttle blew up. But no image. I saw footage on French tv a few minutes later.
I remember telling myself during the summer (august?) of 1985, when one of the SSME shut down prematurely, that one day this shuttle is going to explode...laughing about it (1985 was full of shuttle problems that you had to wonder to what extent the vehicle was really flightworthy).
The day Challenger was gone, needless to say, I wasn't laughing...it was as if somebody had stripped everything inside me and I felt like an empty shell. It's the only time I felt that way and I hope to never, ever feel this way again.
It took me about a week to "recover" and to distance myself from the emotional shock and to start looking at it in more critical way.
It was a tragedy but I'll be thankful (although who am I supposed to thank?!?) that it happened because the following months (the investigation) were a true eye-opener as to the world we live in. Much like 9/11 but Challenger was instructive, 9/11 was just plain scary. (I don't watch the tv news anymore).
So Challenger was gone but remained in my memory every day for years that followed.
I didn't see Columbia live either but once you've lived it once, it's not that you get used to it, but you're no longer taken off-guard, and thus it becomes more "acceptable".
January 28, 1986 was the lousiest (and I'm being polite here!) day of my life.

Chris.

chappy
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posted 01-28-2007 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
21 yrs ago, the space shuttle 'Challenger' explodes 73 seconds after lift-off killing all the 7 crew,..... We shall never forget them and i will re-phrase what the late president said.." They slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God, their spirits are still alive in our hearts"

R.I.P Dick, Mike, Judy, El, Ron, Greg and Christa

Blackarrow
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posted 01-28-2007 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was in the office, thinking about going out with my girlfriend (now my wife) after work. Shortly before 5.00pm local time I received a phone-call from my mother. She simply said: "I think you'd better sit down." I knew immediately.

ASCAN1984
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posted 01-31-2007 04:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a confession to make. I am currently on a mid winter vacation in one of the canarie islands and i have been so busy and not able to go on the internet until today and i realised that i did not mark the aniversary of STS 51L. I never realised that it was the aniversary until towards the end of January 28th which is very unusual for me as i care a great deal about what happened and how wrong it was. Feel bad as i always mark the aniversary and spend a lot of the day thinking about the disaster. The only thing i can think of is that i am currently reading the book on the final flight of columbia and that is very much in my mind.

All times are CT (US)

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