There are few events of my childhood that I remember as starkly as the day that the Challenger exploded soon after takeoff in January 28, 1986. Much like people remember the Kennedy Assasination 23 years before that, the incident was so shocking for so many young, especially because many were watching it live on TV because of the launch of the first civilian, a teacher, into space.
I felt a personal link to the tragedy. Only a short few weeks earlier, I got to take my first visit to Florida, which included Cape Canaveral. I saw Challenger, sitting on the launch pad, eagerly waiting its launch.
A quarter of a century later, space travel is still a frightening experience. This past decades saw the loss of the Columbia Shuttle during re-entry. We take for granted the space program, but the dangers lurk to this day.
As the shuttle program winds down this year, it behooves us to remember the sacrifice and risk that our astronauts face as a daily routine.
President Ronald Reagan, in one of the the most memorable Presidential speeches in response to a tragedy, said it best:
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’