From Joy To Tears: The Challenger Tragedy, 25 Years Ago Today

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Challenger Crew: Back row, from left: mission specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Teacher in Space Participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis and Mission specialist Judy Resnik. Front row, from left: Pilot Mike Smith, Commander Dick Scobee, and Mission specialist Ron McNair. (Photo NASA)

I was a young Navy Lieutenant on this date in 1986 and was performing my watch standing duty as Squadron Duty Officer (SDO).  I was just completing my briefing on squadron events that day to our Executive Officer (XO)  Commander Bob Ponton. He was excited about his former squadron room-mate,  Navy Commander Mike Smith, being launched into space as the pilot of the space shuttle Challenger. Commander Ponton and his wife Suzanne had been in Florida just a few days prior to watch the launch, but it had been delayed (weather) and they returned home to Virginia Beach, Virginia.

We had the TV on in the ready room and when the news broke, I remember Commander Ponton walking expressionless straight to his office and locking the door. Our nation had gone from joy to tears…

Watch the video below and remember where you were on that day, if you were around…Our nation should never be afraid to pay the price of exploration, it is in our genes and is what makes us human…

“The real tragedy is the tragedy of the man who never in his life braces himself for his one supreme effort, who never stretches to his full capacity, never stands up to his full stature”

Arnold Bennett (British novelist, playwright, critic, and essayist, 1867-1931)

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