My son, Alex, talks about Jeff Bezos going to space without any fear or doubt that it's a good idea. I sat in my first grade classroom, after months of learning about Christa McAuliffe and watcher her space shuttle explode. I have different feelings about going to space.
All of the talk about these billionaires going to space led me to thinking about The Challenger and wanting to know more. I watched the Netflix series Challenger: The Final Flight. What I knew of Christa McAuliffe before was from a young child's perspective. Watching the documentary, I am now older that Christa was when she died. She had a son and a daughter like I do- her children watched her space shuttle explode. They were 9 years old and 6 years old.
Beyond Christa, the other astronauts on that ill-fated flight where extraordinary people. Their family members came in to share memories of them and their love and excitement for space. They were all so hopeful and so passionate. They were so trusting that NASA would keep them safe.
Watching the show, you see the ice on the shuttle and you hear about the o rings and how they fail in cold weather. You want to yell all them all not to board that spaceship- to turn back. To wait for warmer temperatures. To just stay on earth.
The teacher who was the runner-up to go to space, Barbara Morgan, trained right alongside Christa and the other astronauts for months. I can't imagine all she felt as she stood there and saw the explosion.
I want to know more. I want to know how Christa McAuliffe's family went home without her, to live a life without her after all that excitement and joy that she had been chosen for this special honor. I read that her children are both teachers now. WHat was life like for them?
I want to know how the people who said it was safe to fly went to bed that night and every night after, knowing their decision killed 7 people. They didn't know for sure, but there was enough doubt that should have grounded that shuttle.
I always felt sad thinking about The Challenger explosion, but after watching the Netflix series, I know so much more about all the astronauts and Christa. To know that this could have been prevented is just so tragic. It's left me with a feeling of heaviness and sadness. I spoke to my sister about it and she said that they died doing something they wanted to do, that they knew the risks. I read that Christa's husband says her mission was fulfilled because she inspired so many teachers and students, for generations.
She's inspired me. What an amazing person she was.
Do you remember watching The Challenger?
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski