It was twenty-three years ago today that the United States space program suffered the first in-flight loss of one of our crews when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded one minute and thirteen seconds after liftoff. I will never forget my mother making a special trip to school and finding me in the lunch line at Emerson Elementary to tell me the news. With countless other millions worldwide, the remainder of the day was spent glued to the television set to try and understand what went wrong that day.
In the words of President Ronald Reagan:
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’