January 28th, 2010, is the 24th Anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster. Pictured on the right is a sculpture of the explosion, which is equal parts gaudy and awesome.
I alternately think of today as either Generation X’s 9/11 or the Day of National Hubris. If you watch the live feed of the explosion, you can hear Mission Control make what was probably the understatement of the decade—that the deaths were “obviously a major malfunction.” Both the public affairs officer and the CNN anchor can’t register in real time what they’re watching, exactly. They can’t process the information because theirs is not a world in which an American space mission could fail so horrifically.
But because one of the astronauts was a schoolteacher, a lot children around the country were watching. And those of us who were in, oh say, 4th grade, didn’t have any illusions. We knew the schoolteacher-astronaut lady had just died.
Happy birthday, Beth & Brock.