‘That Special Grace, That Special Spirit…’

 

1986 seems a lifetime ago

Tuesday, January 28

…I was getting a briefing for a meeting I was to have with network anchors – an advance on the St. of the Union address scheduled for tonight. In cam Poindexter & V.P. with the news the shuttle Challenger had blown up on takeoff. We all then headed for a TV & saw the explosion re-played. From then on there was only subject – the death of the 6 crew & 1 passenger – Mrs. McAuliffe, the teacher who had won the right to make the flight. There is no way to describe our shock & horror. …

My memories of that day in high school physics class are still clear in my mind but everything about that world and that country seems so far, far, away:

(H/T)

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    In middle school. We were one of only three classes that got a television so We could watch it live.

    • #1
  2. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Reagan could really president (I use President as a verb). 

    • #2
  3. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I was there. At JSC. I was working for the Engineering Directorate doing requirements analysis for Shuttle payloads. I had gotten into a fender bender on the way to work. After I was there an hour, my mom called and told me my grandmother had died. I turned to a co-worker and told him what had happened so far that day. I concluded by saying “They say trouble comes in threes. I’m up to two, but I don’t know what can top this.” Ninety minutes later I found out.

    • #3
  4. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Ugh. I had to fly to Bakersfield later that day on a puddle jumper. Awful, awful day.

    • #4
  5. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Thanks. It was a tragic event. But thank you for the video showing us all what a President with character looks like.

    • #5
  6. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    I was in our 2 phase heat transfer lab at GSFS at the time working on was to be a shuttle experiment payload for a launch scheduled about a year later. It was many years later when that particular GAS (Get Away Special) Can actually flew.

    To say we were all shock was an understatement, however some of the old sages in our branch were already highly alarmed at the idea going ahead with the launch by operating/flying a system well below the design and tested temperature limits of the STS.

    We have always done system validation by demonstrating the system actually operating at temperatures at least 15 C above and below the predicted temperatures. 

    Though I’m not sure how they would have done that on a static SRB demonstration.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I was at work as a nuclear engineering consultant.  One of my coworkers walked into the office and said, “The shuttle blew up.”  Things were quiet the rest of the day.  I remember the dread I felt when I got home and turned on the TV, but I knew I had to watch . . .

    • #7
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I was helping to build a brand new television station in Delaware. We had the launch on in master control as we had just finished wiring up our C-band satellite dish a couple of days before. It does seem like a lifetime ago.

    On the other hand, last weekend I watched the Bengals get within 1 game of the Super Bowl and caught my wife watching the latest episode of Magnum, PI. In many ways it was the 1980s all over again.

    • #8
  9. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    My youngest daughter was born by C-section +/- 10 minutes of the crash.  The change in the hospital staff was eerie. 

    • #9
  10. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    philo: My memories of that day in high school physics class are still clear in my mind but everything about that world and that country seems so far, far, away:

    First and foremost, I don’t have the words to thank you enough for posting this reminder of what has to go down in history as one of the most poignant set of brief remarks ever made by a President, or anyone else for that matter, on a day of inexpressible depths of grief for the Nation. 

    Second, like @jimmcconnell, I also thank you for reminding us of what a real President of the United States looks and sounds like, who comports himself with such dignity and who shows, without any attempt to soften it, his deep, unlimited, total love for his country. While I say thank you, I also have to say that when My Lady and I watched this video, we both had the same reaction: how painful and downright hurtful it is to be reminded so vividly what we had in President Ronald Wilson Reagan, who I have often referred to as the last President, in the sense that someone of my admittedly advanced age thinks a President should be, we have ever been fortunate enough to have. 

    Third, in view of President Reagan’s closing line in this magnificent tribute, I thought our colleagues might be interested in the poem from which those lines came, High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was killed in a mid-air collision over England in WWII. As one who proudly served in the United States Air Force, Strategic Air Command, it has always been very special to me. 

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air…

    Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    May the crew of Challenger, true American heroes and heroines from another time, Rest In Peace. 

     

    • #10
  11. She Member
    She
    @She

    philo:

    1986 seems a lifetime ago

    Tuesday, January 28

    …I was getting a briefing for a meeting I was to have with network anchors – an advance on the St. of the Union address scheduled for tonight. In cam Poindexter & V.P. with the news the shuttle Challenger had blown up on takeoff. We all then headed for a TV & saw the explosion re-played. From then on there was only subject – the death of the 6 crew & 1 passenger – Mrs. McAuliffe, the teacher who had won the right to make the flight. There is no way to describe our shock & horror. …

    My memories of that day in high school physics class are still clear in my mind but everything about that world and that country seems so far, far, away:

    Indeed.  I was at work on that day (that Challenger exploded), selling PCs to corporations in Pittsburgh.  I remember the instant that the news came over the wire.

    Still, a better equivalence (on my part) might be June 6, 1968, the day Bobby Kennedy died in the early morning (California time).  I got to school (eighth grade) a couple of hours (Eastern time) after the event had transpired.  But because this was 1968, it was the first we were hearing of it. Jr. High school chemistry class. We were sent home.

    I will never, ever, forget.

    The only thing that comes close in my memory (weirdly) occurred in October of 1995, when the IT staff at Washington Hospital gathered around the department’s only television set to learn that OJ Simpson had been acquitted of the murders of his former wife and her friend.  Many in the room cried. I won’t forget that one, either.

     

     

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    And it still doesn’t occur to NASA that the mind set that thought it worthwhile to put a “teacher” on the shuttle is the same mind set that ignores the danger of the o-rings in cold weather.  

     

    • #12
  13. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    • #13
  14. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    Two of us.

    • #14
  15. TGA Coolidge
    TGA
    @TGA

    She (View Comment):

    philo:

    1986 seems a lifetime ago:

    Tuesday, January 28

     

    The only thing that comes close in my memory (weirdly) occurred in October of 1995, when the IT staff at Washington Hospital gathered around the department’s only television set to learn that OJ Simpson had been acquitted of the murders of his former wife and her friend. Many in the room cried. I won’t forget that one, either.

     

     

    It was October 3.  My birthday.  The small measure of justice came 13 years later, in 2008, for 12 different counts including robbery and kidnapping.  Also on October 3.

    • #15
  16. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    I was three when JFK was assassinated, so I don’t remember it.  The Challenger explosion was my first “Kennedy moment.”

    I went to class at University of Maryland.  The class was in a large auditorium style room.  There was a small crowd at the front of the room gathered around a radio.  I couldn’t hear what was on the radio.  Someone walked by and I asked him what was going on.  He said, “I think the space shuttle blew up.”  He wasn’t sure.

    Then the professor appeared at the front of the classroom and asked the students by the radio what was going on.  I couldn’t hear the answer.  The professor said “Oh, ok,” and proceeded with his planned lecture without announcing what had happened.

    I spent the rest of the class time wondering whether the shuttle actually blew up, and didn’t confirm it until afterward.

    • #16
  17. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):
    To say we were all shock was an understatement, however some of the old sages in our branch were already highly alarmed at the idea going ahead with the launch by operating/flying a system well below the design and tested temperature limits of the STS.

    There is a Netflix documentary titled “Challenger:  The Final Flight” that is worth watching.  The documentary showed that people were raising the alarm about launching at too low a temperature.  They felt like they were talking to a wall and were beside themselves.

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):
    To say we were all shock was an understatement, however some of the old sages in our branch were already highly alarmed at the idea going ahead with the launch by operating/flying a system well below the design and tested temperature limits of the STS.

    There is a Netflix documentary titled “Challenger: The Final Flight” that is worth watching. The documentary showed that people were raising the alarm about launching at too low a temperature. They felt like they were talking to a wall and were beside themselves.

    But at least they had a representative of one of the least challenging college degrees on board.

    • #18
  19. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    For the record, it is really starting to piss me off how the videos included in my posts get jacked-up upon promotion. Is this how things are supposed to work? If not, is it that no one notices and/or cares to fix it? 

    Respectfully, 

    me

    • #19
  20. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    philo (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    For the record, it is really starting to piss me off how the videos included in my posts get jacked-up upon promotion. Is this how things are supposed to work? If not, is it that no one notices and/or cares to fix it?

    Respectfully,

    me

    Is see that Susan Quinn’s video survived. Is it something I am doing wrong?

    • #20
  21. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    President Reagan’s speech.

    • #21
  22. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    philo (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    For the record, it is really starting to piss me off how the videos included in my posts get jacked-up upon promotion. Is this how things are supposed to work? If not, is it that no one notices and/or cares to fix it?

    Respectfully,

    me

    I saw the flag and fixed it.  Here is one thing you can try in the future.  If you copy and paste the URL from your address bar it may work, but the better way seems to be doing it this way.  When you are looking at a video on Youtube, underneath the video there should be a button that says Share.  Click on that and choose Copy.  The URL is slightly different than the one in the address bar.  Perhaps that is why sometimes the videos get jacked, and sometimes they don’t?

    • #22
  23. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.

    (Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)

    For the record, it is really starting to piss me off how the videos included in my posts get jacked-up upon promotion. Is this how things are supposed to work? If not, is it that no one notices and/or cares to fix it?

    Respectfully,

    me

    I saw the flag and fixed it. Here is one thing you can try in the future. If you copy and paste the URL from your address bar it may work, but the better way seems to be doing it this way. When you are looking at a video on Youtube, underneath the video there should be a button that says Share. Click on that and choose Copy. The URL is slightly different than the one in the address bar. Perhaps that is why sometimes the videos get jacked, and sometimes they don’t?

    Thank you. I will utilize this advanced knowledge in the future.

    [For the interested readers: Clearly, I dashed off the above comment while at the height of irritation. I returned some time later with a cooler head and flagged my own comment (not the proper use of the “flag” function but it was a handy option) with a somewhat more polite request for help. Excellent results! Thanks again, Mr. Weivoda.]

    • #23
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