This article was originally posted on January 28, 2013.
Twenty-seven years [twenty-nine now] ago I sat at the window in my office enjoying the clear, crisp morning that would give us an unprecedented view of the Challenger launch more than 120 miles away. Normally clouds would limit our view. Even so, we would not see the shuttle itself, just the fire from the rockets and the huge vapor trail following it.
Since we seldom saw the sequence where the external tanks drop, we didn’t recognize the unusual attitude of the vapor trail as a problem. We had no television or radios in the office so we didn’t know anything was wrong until someone came by with the news. The TVs in our training room were quickly jerry-rigged with makeshift antennas to pull in the local news coverage of the disaster and we spent most of the remainder of the day in a state of shock.
What I remember most about that day is the vapor trail which seemed to hang there in the sky for hours (no, but it seemed that way) as testament to what had happened.
My fascination with space travel continues and I watched every shuttle launch I could until the program ended. I will always be in awe of the men and women who ride those amazing rockets into the unknown.