What were you doing 30 years ago today? Most likely you were watching the Space Shuttle Challenger blast off from the Kennedy Space Center. What happened next was unforgettable. Millions were watching along the “space coast” of Florida on an absolutely beautiful morning. Millions more were watching on TV as well.

What made it special was the crew of seven astronauts which included, for the first time ever, a school teacher named Christa McAuliff. Because of her being a school teacher and all the pre-launch conversation of that fact, there were millions of students who were also watching television for the launch. At 11:36 a.m. the Challenger blasted off into a brilliant blue sky.

What took place 73 seconds later will forever be etched into the minds of all who watched. The spacecraft suffered an O-ring failure which allowed gas to leak and it resulted in a devastating explosion killing all seven crew members including McAuliff. The teachers of America, shocked as well, had the dubious honor of explaining what just happened to the youth of America. I am sure that was no easy task.

It was one of those “do you remember where you were when” moments. I had just gotten off the air and was watching the launch on TV with other co-workers.  I remember uttering the words “Oh my God” when I saw it. It was such a sad day and one I will always remember.

Having been to the launch site for the final Space Shuttle launch three years ago, I had a very uneasy but thrilling feeling watching the lift off and flight. It’s too bad no more shuttles are scheduled in the future.

Growing up watching the Apollo fights as a kid, I always wanted to be the first broadcaster on the moon.  I have always had an interest in the space program and I probably always will.

Watching that launch, the explosion and subsequent fire ball is a memory I will never forget and one I hope I never see again.  So where were you when you saw the same thing 30 years ago today?

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