Challenger Explosion Remembered 30-Years Later


It’s a tragedy that rocked the nation. 30-years-ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger took off for space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but moments later the shuttle exploded, killing seven astronauts including teacher Christa McAuliffe.   

Millions of Americans were crowded around their Television sets to witness the launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle on a beautiful day in Cape Canaveral.

“I was the Johnson Space Center, with hundred and hundreds of other NASA employees watching the launch and it was just unbelievable,” said Dr. Chuck Wood.

Dr. Wood worked with the crew who lost their lives that day.  He would teach them to take pictures of things we would find interesting from outer space. Things like erupting volcanoes and other beautiful Earthly landscapes.

“When the teacher in space was going to fly, she was very interested in teaching a lesson about the geography of the Earth, the scene from space, so I worked with Christa McAuliffe to help plan that lesson,” said Dr. Wood.

Just 72 seconds later, at 11:39 a.m., the mood quickly changed from excitement to anxiety as those beautiful blue skies turned red, marking one of the most horrific disasters in NASA’s history. 

“We were all scientists and engineers, we understood what happened as soon at the explosion happened, but we couldn’t expect it,” said Dr. Wood.

Since the disaster, Wheeling Jesuit University was able to open their Challenger Learning Center, to gives kids in our area a hands on lesson on some of the things astronauts might experience, when they go through training. The Center opened their doors in 1994.

Thursday they’ll honor those lives lost with a special event called “A night to Remember”.

“The whole entire evening will be free to the community, just to give our thank you for being apart of our community of our Challenger Center,” said Director of the Challenger Learning Center at WJU, Jackie Shia.

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