Comment of the Day: Does the Challenger Explosion Only Resonate in Houston?

Categories: NASA, Whatever

We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them.

So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even.

This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involving wit, clarity and whatever else we feel like at the moment.

Yesterday, in honor of today's 25th anniversary of the Shuttle Challenger disaster, we provided a list of what we thought were the five most chilling moments in the event and its aftermath.

Naturally, it led readers to recall where they were when they got the news.

Sihaya wrote:

I was in the sixth grade. I was a member of the Young Astronauts at my school, as were alot of kids in the halcyon days of the space program. The previous fall, all of our school windows had been rattled by a sonic boom as a NASA pilot basically buzzed Houston on his way home in a military jet. Our neighbors were all astronauts, and we would be, too.

The drama teacher had come by to tell my class what had just happened. As he was a right bugger who was prone to bad jokes, no one believed himm. As twelve-year-olds will be twelve-year-olds, a number of kids started inventing bad jokes.

Then the announcement was made on the PA. And then, of course, we all crowded into any classroom with a TV. Even the kids who were still joking after the announcement, even they just stopped. Stopped moving, stopped talking, stopped that jittery, pen-tapping, twangy staccato vibrating hum that preteens just can't quit making as they go about their business all day.

If you get outside of Houston, you'll find alot of people the same age who actually don't remember that much about the Challenger disaster. I went to college in another state; I remember in one class when we discussed historic events like the Kennedy assassination, the teacher asked if there was any event which stuck in our minds so much that we recalled where we were when it happened. When I said, "The Challenger explosion," alot of people looked at me sideways and rolled their eyes until they realized I wasn't giving the prof a smart aleck comeback. They'd never thought about it much at all. For certain places in America, the Challenger explosion was a community tragedy.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
From Somewhere Else
From Somewhere Else

Maybe it's true that "[f}or certain places in America, the Challenger explosion was a community tragedy." It certainly wasn't only Houston, however. I lived in Palmdale, California at the time. Back then, Palmdale was just a tiny place in the Mojave where they built airplanes and, oh, space shuttles. If the Challenger had crashed on city hall, we couldn't have been more directly or profoundly affected by the tragedy.


I went into a "Do NOT disturb us for ANY reason" meeting as they were about to start the countdown. Nobody said anything to us as we came out a couple hours later, and we took the stunned silence as simply people hard at work. My first clue was that on my way back to my office everybody on 45 had their headlights on, and on the radio they just kept talking about "this terrible disaster," assuming that everyone knew what it was. It was pre-cell phone days, so I had to wait until I got back - where my first words to the receptionist were "what the hell is going on?????"

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault