It is today that we remember and honor the crews of Apollo 1 and Challenger. They made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives and service to their country and for all mankind. Their dedication and devotion to the exploration of space was an inspiration to each of us, and still motivates people around the world to achieve great things in service to others. As we orbit the Earth, we will join the entire NASA family for a moment of silence in their memory. Our thoughts and prayers go to their families as well.STS-107 commander Rick Husband
I saved this quote on the day it was uttered by Rick Husband. I’m backdating this blog entry to the day he said it. I put it into a calendar entry that I made to remind me of the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I made one for the Apollo 1 disaster at the same time, making note of the names of the three astronauts that died that day.
I remember watching the Moon landings on our black and white television in the little wood paneled room next to the kitchen, in that house in Leoti that I still think of as home, even though that place hasn’t existed for about 35 years. I remember it as clearly as anyone can remember something that recurs to them time and again over the span of decades; which is another way of saying, I probably have invented most of the details of what I remember, but I know that I watched the events of the Apollo program unfold on television in breathless anticipation. I’m sure I watched the news the day that Ed White, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom died, and I’m sure I cried at the news.
I probably cried as much as the day that I watched the space shuttle Challenger disappear into that infamous ball of smoke that nearly every person alive can probably picture just by reading the word Challenger. I didn’t watch it live. I know that much. I was out driving in my car that day with some of my friends, and we heard it on the radio. When we got back to the house and watched the news, that is when we finally saw the horror that most of us remember from that day. I wrote an article for the blog on the thirtieth anniversary:
A gushing, emotional piece that I desperately want to rewrite but refuse to touch because those were the emotions that motivated me that day to write it. The emotions that motivated me to put the events on my calendar. The emotions that continue to motivate me to mark the anniversaries with a moment of silence even to this day. In four days Rick Husband and his crew would fall victim to the same human errors that caused the deaths of the Apollo 1 and Challenger crews. That is the real tragedy of the words he uttered that day.
Featured image: arstechnica.com