As hard as it is for me to believe, today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Christa McAuliffe — the teacher selected to be the first civilian in space — who tragically died along with six others in the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Several stories are running today remembering the event.
- 30 years ago, Christa McAuliffe’s dream became the country’s nightmare: This short article includes images of McAuliffe with her two children. The kids, Scott and Caroline (8 and 5 years old when the explosion occurred) were onsite that day. In fact, Scoot’s entire third grade class were on hand. The report also includes quotes from a close friend.
- Christa McAuliffe, first teacher in space, continues to inspire: This story is told from a very unique perspective. It tells the story of a few of McAuliffe’s social study students who are teachers today. One of those previous students, Tammy Hickey said,
“As a teacher now, I know that I want to show respect and show my students that I care. I can say to emulate how she was, would be a service to these kids for sure.”
A Major Malfulnction
One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was about the disaster. An excellent book, written about the accident, Challenger : A Major Malfunction : A True Story of Politics, Greed, and the Wrong Stuff, includes the story of the relatively unknown Roger Boisjoly. Boisjoly predicted the explosion — and as an O-Ring expert his opinion should have mattered.
But, unfortunately it was a case of upper management:
- Asking the wrong question
- Wanting to please a customer (NASA)
- Requiring hard data — instead of an expert opinion — from Boisjoly.
The data didn’t exist, Boisjoly’s concerns were overridden and — just as he predicted the night before the launch — the event was catastrophic.
Did NASA Learn Anything?
Of course, when another space shuttle disaster occurred in 2003, it caused many at the time, and since, to question what was really learned in the Challenger disaster. One article posted today takes a look at that question.