Author Topic: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space  (Read 69914 times)

Offline Ares67

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Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
Crew / Mission / Training / Launch Preparations


Challenger STS 51-L – Part 2/4 Major Malfunction
Countdown / Launch Day / Explosion

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28260.0

Challenger STS 51-L – Part 3/4 Days of Mourning
Immediate Reactions / Reagan Speech / Memorial Services

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28340.0

Challenger STS 51-L – Part 4/4 End of Innocence
Debris and Photo Documentation / Rogers Commission / Findings

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28412.0


This topic isn’t the easiest one to present – especially for those of us who watched the events during those dark days, or those who were even directly involved with the crew and their mission. But it’s also an important event in space history to remember – since many lessons had to be learned from it. And as we know today, some of them seemed to have already been forgotten in 2003…

And – as I know from some of your responses to my earlier presentations – of course it’s especially interesting to those of you who were too young or weren’t even born when Challenger and her last crew lifted off. I will show you as many aspects of STS 51-L as possible and will not shy away from the rather emotional pictures. I think they are as important as the technical details in order to get a complete impression of the occurrences surrounding the sad loss we all experienced on that fateful day in January 1986.

So, it’s a tough one. And as you can see, it’s a big one, too. Therefore I have decided to divide this presentation into four separate parts. I will post links at the start of each one of them in order to allow for easier navigation between the chapters.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2012 07:32 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #1 on: 03/01/2012 07:44 PM »
There are events in everybody’s personal life one will always remember. Nations have a similar collective memory for certain important events. And sometimes the whole world is watching and remembering these events decades or even centuries later. You all have heard the words “I know exactly where I was and what I did when…” – and sometimes there are incidents we immediately can refer to and of which we have certain pictures in our minds, even if we weren’t born at the time they have happened. Some of our collective memories are showing humanity at its best, but sadly enough most of the occurrences in question are major catastrophes or acts of evil.

I personally have two pictures in my mind when remembering January 28, 1986. One is that of the booster rockets exiting the cloud of steam and fire immediately after the explosion, forming that inappropriate “V” victory sign in the blue skies above Florida. The other is that of the faces of Christa McAuliffe’s students watching their teacher die live on TV. At the time here in Germany I was a student at about the same age and - having been a space enthusiast for several years – felt totally devastated and could deeply relate to how they must have felt. And that was the fact that made the loss of Challenger and her crew even more painful for America – students around the nation, even if they weren’t that interested in space, could relate to a teacher sitting aboard the Space Shuttle. Somebody at the time asked: “Who personally knows an astronaut? Everybody knows a teacher!” A whole nation was proud of its space program and had been prepared to celebrate the first real “private” citizen in space – instead there was collective pain and mourning, and children asking questions about loss and death.

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #2 on: 03/01/2012 07:47 PM »
The “Teacher in Space” project had been NASA administrator James Beggs’ idea and President Reagan, being accused by his political opponents of ruining America’s educational system, liked it. Everybody had thought the first “ordinary” citizen in space would be a journalist, because he or she would be able to most effectively communicate the impressions of being in space to the general public. But on the campaign trail to reelection Reagan’s strategists felt the importance of education would be a much more effective message getting through to the voters.

And so on August 27, 1984, President Reagan announced the plan to the American public in general, and educators around the nation in particular: “Until now we hadn’t decided who the first citizen passenger would be. But today I am directing NASA to begin the search in all of our elementary and secondary schools and to choose as the first citizen passenger in the history of our space program one of America’s finest – a teacher. When the shuttle lifts off, all of America will be reminded of the crucial role that teachers and education play in the life of our nation. I can’t think of a better lesson for our children and our country.”

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #3 on: 03/01/2012 07:55 PM »
The day the Shuttle Program lost its innocence…
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #4 on: 03/01/2012 07:58 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #5 on: 03/01/2012 08:03 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #6 on: 03/01/2012 08:09 PM »
In the next couple of months that followed President Reagan’s announcement NASA received more than 11,000 applications. Before the final selection of ten Teacher in Space candidates a total of 114 nominees were invited to a special treat – a State Dinner at the White House. President Ronald Reagan welcomed them to the East Room in the early afternoon of June 26, 1985:

Reagan: Class will come to order. [Laughter] Well, good afternoon, and welcome to the White House, if no one has said that to you yet.

First, let me congratulate you all. The fact that you've come this far in the selection process is testimony to your abilities and the respect of your colleagues. And I'm sure that you've made your schools and communities and your students very proud. I also want to tell you that your shuttle doesn't blast off for a while yet, so there's still time to back out. [Laughter]

I suppose that we all have a few special teachers that we remember with particular affection and gratitude. One such teacher for me was Esther Barton, back in Dixon, Illinois. I sometimes wonder what she would have made of our Teacher in Space Project. But I have a hunch, remembering some of my escapades, that if she were here today, she'd tell you this won't be the first time I've sent a teacher into orbit. [Laughter]

But I remember one story that she told us about how, when the British were marching toward Washington in the War of 1812, Dolly Madison had time only to save a few precious personal possessions and one portrait of George Washington. Right there. A few hours after she escaped by wagon, the British looted and burned the White House, destroying everything but that one portrait of the father of our country that Dolly Madison saved from the flames.

Well, in that same way, America's teachers are the preservers and protectors of our heritage. You save our past from being consumed by forgetfulness and our future from being engulfed in ignorance.

Every new class is a generation to whom you must transmit the treasures of our civilization. Every new year for the schoolteacher is like a new age of enlightenment in which young minds become awakened to the truths that we hold to be self-evident. You teach your students math and science and literature and history—a variety of subjects. You give them many facts and much knowledge. But your task is greater than that because with the facts, you must impart the values that give them meaning and context—our most sacred values of human dignity and the worth of the individual. You teach an understanding of liberty with respect for the law and help show the way of freedom under God while guiding our youth into the constructive paths of self-fulfillment.

In the hands of America's teachers rests the formidable responsibility of molding and inspiring tomorrow's heroes—the medical scientists who will invent cures for disease, the businessmen who will found whole new industries, the writers, artists, doctors—who knows, maybe even a politician or two. [Laughter]

All Americans who strive to excel, not because they are in competition with anyone else, but because they're in competition with their own imagination to be the very best possible in whatever job they have.

I have some warm memories of another teacher, too, in Dixon, Illinois—this time at high school level—B.J. Frazier. I remember one day, he not only taught English, but-and I don't know whether principals still do this today or not—but he taught English, but was also principal. And I was in his office— [Laughter] —it wasn't exactly a social call— [laughter] —and I remember the conversation that he said to me that it didn't matter to him what I thought of him at that time, that what he was concerned about was what would I think of him 15 years from now.

And I must say, before he departed this Earth and 15 or more years had passed, I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to tell him what I thought of him, which was what he had meant to me, and as the years went by, I had come to realize how much he had meant.

A journalist named Clark Mollenhoff has written a poem about teachers and says it better than I can. The title of the poem is "Teacher." I don't know whether any of you are familiar with it or not. He was a White House correspondent for quite some time before I got here. But his poem reads:
You are the molders of their dreams—the gods who build or crush their young beliefs in right or wrong.
You are the spark that sets aflame a poet's hand, or lights the flame in some great singer's song.
You are the gods of the young—the very young.
You are their idols by profession set apart.
You are the guardians of a million dreams.
Your every smile or frown can heal or pierce a heart.
Yours are 100 lives, 1,000 lives.
Yours is the pride of loving them, the sorrow too.
Your patient work, your touch, make you the gods of hope that fills their souls with dreams and make those dreams come true.

Emerson said that men love to wonder, and that's the seed of our science. Well, it's also wonder that opens the doors of possibility to young minds, that leads to the avenues of hope and opportunity.

When one of you blasts off from Cape Kennedy next January, you will be representing that hope and opportunity and possibility-you'll be the emissary to the next generation of American heroes. And your message will be that our progress, impressive as it is, is only just a beginning; that our achievements, as great as they are, are only a launching pad into the future. Flying up above the atmosphere, you'll be able to truly say that our horizons are not our limits, only new frontiers to be explored.

Speaking of limits, you might be interested that what you're about to do was not so long ago considered completely impossible by the best authorities on the subject. In 1955, about 2 years before sputnik, Dr. Wooley, Britain's royal astronomer, said conclusively, "Space travel is utterly bilge." [Laughter] Now, whichever one of you is chosen might also want to take under consideration the opinion of another expert, "The acceleration which must result from the use of rockets," he said, "inevitably would damage the brain." [Laughter] So, consider yourself forewarned. [Laughter]

But seriously, I wish you all the best of luck, and I hope your mission is as successful as the one that we've just completed. I'm glad it's not me who'll have to make the final selection of the first teacher astronaut because each one of you is eminently qualified. For the lucky one who does go up in the shuttle, I have only one assignment: Take notes. There will be a quiz after you land. [Laughter]

So, thank you, and God bless you all, and may I ask though, in their being here, is there a possibility that on the schedule is a view of that movie that we saw the other night? Well, then, to those of you who don't make it—have you seen it yet?

Audience: Yes!

Reagan: Oh, well, then you know already what I was going to say. [Laughter] It's just about as close to being in space as I think you can be and still have your feet on the ground. I was really carried away with that. We never had anything like that in the horse cavalry when I was… [Laughter]

But again, I say thank you, and God bless you all. And as I understand now, down at the other end of the hall in the dining room there are refreshments—I can't join you there; I've got to get back to the Oval Office. [Laughter] Thanks very much.


Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #7 on: 03/01/2012 08:14 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #8 on: 03/01/2012 08:18 PM »
On July 1, 1985 NASA administrator James Beggs presented ten men and women, coming from different sectors of the educational system. Eighteen days later these finalists went back to the White House. On July 19, 1985, at 1:18 p.m. EDT a short ceremony hosted by Vice President George Bush took place in the Roosevelt Room. President Reagan was unable to attend the event; he was at Bethesda Naval Hospital recovering from a major surgery on July 12 for a cancerous polyp in his bowels. The Vice President announced the winner and backup teacher and presented them with small statues on behalf of NASA and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #9 on: 03/01/2012 08:19 PM »
Bush: We're here today to announce the first private citizen passenger in the history of space flight. The President said last August that this passenger would be one of America's finest—a teacher. Well, since then, as we've heard, NASA, with the help of the heads of our State school systems, has searched the Nation for a teacher with "the right stuff." Really, there are thousands, thousands of teachers with the right stuff. And they're committed to quality in education; to teaching their students the basics—reading, writing, mathematics, science, literature, history—to teaching the foundations of our cultural heritage; to teaching the values that guide us as Americans; and to teaching that important, but difficult to obtain, quality—clarity of thought.

We're honoring all those teachers of merit today, and we're doing something else because the finalists here with me and the more than a hundred semifinalists will all in the months ahead serve, as Jim has said, as a link between NASA and the Nation's school system. These teachers have all received special NASA training to pass on to other teachers and to their students. And together they and NASA will be a part of an exciting partnership for quality in education.

So, let me tell you now who our teacher in space will be. And let me say I thought I was a world traveler, but this tops anything I've tried. And first, the backup teacher, who will make the flight if the winner can't: Barbara Morgan of the McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho. Barbara has been a teacher for 11 years. She first taught on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. She currently teaches second grade. Congratulations. And we have a little thing for you.

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #10 on: 03/01/2012 08:22 PM »
And the winner, the teacher who will be going into space: Christa McAuliffe. Where is—is that you? [Laughter] Christa teaches in Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire. She teaches high school social studies. She's been teaching for 12 years. She plans to keep a journal of her experiences in space. She said that—and here's the quote—"Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, as a space traveler would do the same." Well, I'm personally looking forward to reading that journal some day.

And by the way, Christa, while you're in the program, Concord High obviously will need substitute teachers to fill in. And it's only right that we provide— [laughter] —one of these substitutes. So, the first class you miss, your substitute will be my dear friend and the President's, Bill Bennett, the Secretary of Education.

So, congratulations to all of you. Good luck, Christa, and God bless all of you. Thank you very much for coming. And you, too, get one of these.

McAuliffe: It's not often that a teacher is at a loss for words. I know my students wouldn't think so. I've made nine wonderful friends over the last two weeks. And when that shuttle goes, there might be one body, but there's going to be ten souls that I'm taking with me. Thank you.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2012 08:27 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #11 on: 03/01/2012 08:25 PM »
Claus Jensen described in his book “No Downlink” (1996): “…, from the moment she was selected McAuliffe became public property. Reporters swarmed in from all over the United States to portray this ordinary citizen’s perfectly ordinary life with her lawyer husband, Steve, nine-year-old Scott and seven-year-old Caroline. In no time she was being viewed as a source of inspiration, not just for American children, but – perhaps chiefly – for American women who, like McAuliffe, manage to combine a career with running a family, having a husband and children. Just as John Glenn had once been – though for very different reasons – Christa McAuliffe became an American idol. (…) What Christa had to say, on anything under the sun, was of interest. Very early on she told the reporters how much she admired John F. Kennedy and the whole Kennedy clan. This was too much for Reagan’s White House. Michael Deaver of the President’s staff rang James Beggs and asked him to make sure that McAuliffe was quite clear about what one could and – most importantly – could not say. She confined herself to more diplomatic utterances thereafter.” – “Christa was a vocal New Hampshire Democrat. She admired Eleanor Roosevelt and the martyred Kennedy brothers, John and Robert,” Christa’s mother, Grace Corrigan, described in “A Journal for Christa” (1993). “NASA had been asked to have her tone down her political views. At (the June 26) dinner, Christa was seated on President Reagan’s left. Their conversation was nonpolitical. They swapped stories, a teacher and a veteran of the movies.”
« Last Edit: 03/01/2012 08:25 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #12 on: 03/01/2012 08:26 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #13 on: 03/01/2012 08:30 PM »
When Christa McAuliffe returned to her hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, she was honored by the local Lions Club with a parade. “Christa sat on top of the back seat of a Mercedes convertible, her children alongside her,” tells her mother. “Our driver, a young man, turned to me and asked, ‘What is this all about? Who is she anyway?’ When I explained, he wasn’t a bit impressed. ‘And I thought I was going to be driving Miss New Hampshire!’”

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #14 on: 03/01/2012 08:32 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #15 on: 03/01/2012 08:34 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #16 on: 03/01/2012 08:36 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #17 on: 03/01/2012 08:38 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #18 on: 03/01/2012 08:41 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS 51-L – Part 1/4 Teacher in Space
« Reply #19 on: 03/01/2012 08:45 PM »
Christa McAuliffe 1948-1986

She was riding in a Volkswagen with her future husband Steven through a rainstorm in Pennsylvania in 1969 when the news came over the car radio: a man had set foot on the moon. They both cheered, but neither had any reason to suspect that the event would someday directly change their lives. Much later she said, "When I was young, women did not fly in space."

Neither did teachers. No one could have foreseen the final six months of her 37 years. Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe was a wife, a mother of two small children and a dedicated high school teacher in Concord, N.H., when NASA announced last July that she had been chosen to join a shuttle crew. She was amazed that her application had brought her the top prize, and she was not the only one. A school official in Concord recalled, "To us, she seemed average. But she turned out to be remarkable. She handled success so beautifully."

Though she soon found herself sitting next to the President at a White House dinner and appearing on TV news and talk shows, McAuliffe was in fact a startlingly normal American. The eldest of five children of an accountant in Framingham, Mass., she attended a local Roman Catholic high school, earned middling grades, sang in the glee club, played volleyball and softball, and met Steven. They were married after they were graduated from Framingham State College in 1970. Christa and her husband went first to Washington, where Steven received a law degree from Georgetown University, and later to New Hampshire, where he joined the staff of the state attorney general.

Her energy was prodigious. While her husband was in law school, she picked up a master's degree in education from Bowie State College in Maryland. Expecting her first child, she started to keep a diary in a spiral notebook, recording doctor's appointments, visitors, the deeds of the family cats. "This was my history for my children," she said. "I would have loved to know my mother's life that way." She threw herself into community work, leading a Girl Scout troop, working in day-care units and raising money for the local hospital. Teaching full time, she won a reputation as an innovator, devising new courses on practical aspects of the law and on American women. Life inside Room 305 at Concord High was never dull. "In her classroom there was always something going on," said Principal Charles Foley. "There were always plans."

McAuliffe's approach to feminism accentuated the positive. "She never sounded angry," said a fellow teacher. "She wanted women to do more, to learn more." She wanted everyone to learn more, including herself. "What are we doing here? We're reaching for the stars," she said after entering the astronaut program. Despite her newfound celebrity, McAuliffe never doubted that following her sojourn in space she would return to Concord, to the family she would have been away from for many months and, above all, to her classroom. She told an audience last August, "I touch the future. I teach."

(TIME, February 10, 1986)

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