Thirty years ago this week, after several delays due to unusual weather conditions, the Space Shuttle Challenger took off toward space. The mission was meant to be historic for many reasons, one being for crew member Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from New Hampshire who had been selected after a nationwide search to be the first "Teacher In Space." As a result, televisions were on in classrooms throughout the United States, with students and teachers excited to see "their" teacher that they had selected to launch into space. Instead of a successful launch, though, the shuttle exploded mid-flight and dropped into the ocean, on live TV. As a 4th grade student at the time, I was sitting on the floor with my fellow classmates, watching the launch on a television at the front of the room. What we witnessed that day changed us all.
On January 26, 1986 the nation grieved for seven lost astronauts. President Reagan was scheduled to give The State of the Union that evening, but it was postponed and instead he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, giving one of the most memorable speeches of his Presidency:
Over the next months and years we would learn about the shortcuts and missed warnings that led to the defects that allowed the Challenger disaster to happen. It was more than two years before Americans returned to space with the launch of Discovery in October 1988.
Below is a picture of the seven astronauts that lost their lives: