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Where were you when the Challenger space shuttle disaster happened?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: June 02, 2010 
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Where were you when the Challenger space shuttle disaster happened?


11 Responses to “Where were you when the Challenger space shuttle disaster happened?”


  1. 1
    J. L. Bell says:

    Giving blood. Heard faint whispers about some sort of accident. Thought, “Well, that's why I'm here."

  2. 2
    Darryl MacDonald says:

    I was at home watching the launch and I was stunned at what I saw.

  3. 3
    Ed Hamilton says:

    I, too, was home, watching the launch, and remember yelling out loud at the huge plume of smoke for the shuttle to appear. I could not watch another launch for years.

  4. 4
    Chuck says:

    Right in the middle of a printing job in my print shop when a customer came in and told of the disaster.

  5. 5
    Darryl Raby says:

    Hospital, just outside the operating room waiting for surgery.

  6. 6
    Mike H. says:

    Watching the launch, and filled with horror at the sight,

  7. 7
    Kerr Mudgeon says:

    At work, in the office. Somebody said to come see it on the TV. Saw the "bleachers" audience response & my heart sank. Watched replays of the video of the explosion of the shuttle, and noted that some "chunks" seemed to separate intact, then fell into the ocean. Had an idea that the crew actually died AFTER the explosion… but didn't say anything.

  8. 8
    Collen DeSanto says:

    I watched the shuttle launch out the window of a Delta Jetliner bound for Ft Lauderdale, Fla.. We were the only commercial airliner in the air space of Cape Kennedy. The pilot alerted the passengers that it would be launching in 2 minutes, and how to locate it visually on the ground. The launch pad appeared about the size of a postage stamp and the shuttle sat on it vertically. It launched, with the billowing white smoke against the back drop of the beautiful blue ocean behind it.pushing it ever higher until it exploded at about a 10 o'clock position in the sky. Everyone gasped and sat down, but those with the window seats were locked in a trance. We watched as the booster rockets flew wildly , the pilot announce that it was just the boosters seperating…we knew better and then suddenly it appeared. We could see against that blue ocean the shuttle itself…a small white shape…but visibly the shuttle..it was contrailing up in an arc away from the explosion…"open the shutte, open the shutte….come on open it " were the whisper coming from my mouth as well as passengers behind me. we watched as it started to tumble to earth….No shutte opened and as it descended close to earth the contrail disappeared and then the small speck of the shuttle did too. It was about 2 minutes later that the captain announced that there had been a catstrophic failure on the shuttle and he would keep us posted. As we landed, the captain announced that if anyone had any photos, video tape or such of the launch that NASA was asking them to report to the Delta Desk upon departure form the plane………….There are men in black !!! they were there collecting any of them….. we had no picture but I have the memory of this burned into my memory and only have to shut my eyes and I can still see it today.

  9. 9
    Don Taylor says:

    I was a Senior Tech working in the Crew Module, I was also a Space Craft Operator, (SCO) I left our area at 7:00am and headed for home, When I arrived at home and getting out of the car I heared the muffled sound of the external tank exploding and looked east I saw the contrails of the Solid rockets and they were not heading in the normal direction. I knew that something major had happened. I called the shop in the OPF and my boss said "we lost Challenger" dont come in until your normal time. I had spent part of my last shift before the launch in the emergency area, If something happened during the count down I and a back up astronautic would hot foot it to the pad and in to the Orbiter and try and fix anything that had failed to work properly so we could continue the count down to launch. As a SCO you have the opportunity to work with and become friends with the astronauts, I knew Ellison Onisuka well and miss all of them very much. Now retired, I miss the program, and the hard working people.

  10. 10
    S Barrett says:

    I was in my high school library after lunch. Thought the other kids were joking when I first heard about it.

  11. 11
    Sydney Peritz says:

    I was glued to my television set and counted down the launch out loud. It was such a beautiful sunny day at the launch site without a cloud in the sky as if the weather was perfectly customized for this event. My excitement quickly faded as I felt a lump in my throat and my heart sinking when I saw that the last of the explosion's vapor trails left nothing to be seen against the clear blue backdrop. What seemed like an eternity was an agonizing feeling of emptiness, shock and disbelief. A few minutes later, the broadcast broke silence with speculations as to what happened. As they awaited confirmation from NASA, all America who happened to be watching already knew the outcome. I cried silently and said a prayer for all those on board as well as their families.To this day I honor their bravery and sacrifice as pioneers who helped pave the way into the future.



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