14 years ago today, we lost the Columbia

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Which brings up the other disaster. Where were you when Challenger exploded.. I was watching the launch in 3rd grade math class. They turned that off fast. Had the old TV strapped on a 3-4ft high cart to roll it around with a betamax and vhs or 2.
 
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I don't recall where I was when Challenger was lost (probably asleep), but when Discovery launched in 88 I was at EPCOT. I recall the whole park coming to a standstill and erupting into an uproar of applause when it went up. As a 14 year old Aussie on my first trip to the US it was an interesting insight into US national pride. Actually it was amazing. Made more memorable when we accidentally found my Grandfather the next day, after my father spending the best part of 40 years searching for him (in the US from Australia). I was devastated when Colombia was lost. I recall sitting up in front of the telly as a 7 year old kid watching it go up for the first time.
 
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I remember where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember where I was and who told me when both Columbia and Challenger were lost. Rod
 
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When the Challenger blew up I was visiting a friend in hospital in DC (double knee replacement - tough ex-paratrooper and that's how the knees got wrecked). Public television was the only outlet carrying it live and we were watching. We just sat there stunned for some time before either of us could speak. What a profoundly sad day that was.
 
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Originally Posted By: Rand
Which brings up the other disaster. Where were you when Challenger exploded.. I was watching the launch in 3rd grade math class. They turned that off fast. Had the old TV strapped on a 3-4ft high cart to roll it around with a betamax and vhs or 2.
I was in the 11th grade. They announced it over the intercom and we all assembled in the chapel to watch the coverage on tv.
 

JetStar

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I was at work for both Challenger and Columbia (on a Saturday), and was in 1st grade when Apollo 1 burnt, but that actually happened in the evening.
 
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Apollo 1 - I was in Grade 4, living in Regina. I don't think as a 9-year-old I was able to fully appreciate what a tragedy it was. Became a space nerd a couple of years later and bought the used LIFE magazines from the day. The disaster rated back-to-back cover stories. Apollo 13 - Grade 7, still in Regina. My parents woke me up perhaps around 11 or midnight to tell me that an oxygen tank had exploded and that the astronauts were in serious danger. (Glad this one at least had a happy ending.) Challenger - I was working the evening shift at Northern Telecom as a test tech and so had mornings off. Mid-morning I walked over to Woolco at a nearby shopping centre. When I walked in the whole store appeared to be deserted, but then I saw everyone clustered by the TVs at the far end of the store. Walked over, asked what was happening, and someone said, 'The space shuttle just exploded'. I'm a bit of a history nerd and have a good head for dates, and often added a bit of random trivia to my daily timecard. The night before, at the end of the shift at midnight, I'd added something like '19 years ago, on January 27 1967, Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed when a flash fire swept through their spacecraft'. Anyway, the next day when I arrived at work for 4 PM the timecard guy looked at me like I was a prophet. Columbia - I was driving to work on the Saturday morning to work a bit of OT. Turned on the radio, I think CBC, and they were talking about the space shuttle disaster. I figured they were rehashing the Challenger disaster of 17 years before - was absolutely shocked when I realized they were talking about the Columbia! I remember a couple of Soviet space disasters (Komarov on Soyuz 1 in '67, and the three cosmonauts in June '71) too, but they didn't affect me as much because their flights got much less coverage here.
 
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I was waiting for a class about electronic filter design to start, sitting way back in a giant old lecture hall, when a guy sitting behind me told his buddy that the Challenger had exploded. I had no idea that a launch was planned for that day and thought maybe it blew up on the pad during prep...I asked if anybody had been killed. The guy rather rudely said something like, "No, everybody's fine, moron!" and laughed...this guy was quite a wank, the kind of guy who really deserved a good beating to put him in his place every so often. I rushed back to my room after the class and was stunned to see the footage of the explosion over and over...my best buddy called to see if I had heard, and I told him that I was too upset to talk just then. Not crying, just utterly shocked and not in the mood to chat. How especially horrible that it had to happen on a mission with a teacher on board...I can remember my daughter crying when we visited the Christa McAuliffe Center up in NH and I explained to her what had happened.
 
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I recall seeing the Challenger disaster in real time on television. It was horrifying. I also recall the congressional show trial that followed, which as is so often the case reached the wrong conclusions. Thiokol was pilloried when if NASA had simply accepted the original recommendations of the Thiokol engineers on site and not launched in the atypical cold of that morning all would have been well. I recall the loss of the Columbia in which a living crew experienced the horror of their ship disintegrating around them with nothing they could do to prevent it or to survive it. I recall Apollo 13 clearly, along with the irony of the flight having to continue on to the moon and orbit it prior to being able to return. I recall what a great relief it was that those three astronauts made it safely home. I recall the horror of the Apollo 1 fire. Imagine being stuck inside a ship sitting on the pad for a test with no way of escaping the flames. I also recall watching the first lunar excursion on live television. A guy who came from a little town just a ways north of us and who later lived in another little town about ten miles east of us always said that he had muffed his signature line, meaning to say "one small step for a man". Of course, he had just recently had to manually fly the LEM to a safe landing site, running it very low on fuel in the process, so a little bit of excitement is to be excused.
 
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