…about this time, I was at Refrigeration Research in Brighton MI, the place where I used to work, trying to peddle some junk-bond-based mutual funds for First Investors, the place I was working for at the time. I don’t recall if I found out there, or when I got back to the car. I hadn’t paid much attention up until then; people had been going into space, mostly successfully, most of my life, and it was no big deal anymore. Sure, there was all that “first teacher in space” hoopla, but I’d grown up being unimpressed by teachers, and saw no reason I should be impressed then. So when it happened, I sorta went “Oh shit…that’s really sad”, but it never occurred to be to write a Challenger memorial piece.
At the time it was (and became more so) All About Christa. If you ask the man on the street who was on the Challenger, the list will begin (if it begins at all) and end with McAuliffe (unless you’re an Akronite, in which case you might remember Judith Resnik). At the time, we sensed there was something wrong with that, which is where the jokes all came from.
What were Christa McAuliffe’s last words? “Gee, what does THIS button do?”
Did you know Christa McAuliffe had blue eyes? One blew here, one blew over there.
The tragedy wasn’t in the lives lost, unless they were friends or family. How many times have we lost 7 or more military at a time? We don’t commemorate that 25 years later. The tragedy was that it ended our belief in technological miracles. We learned that NASA was just as screwed up as any other part of government, that private engineers could say there was a problem but the suits upstairs would reliably bend over for the state. That loss of innocence is worth remembering and mourning today.