STS-51-L Challenger “Vehicle lost during launch” in 1986

My iCal has a NASA history calendar with this terse entry for today:

(1986) STS-51-L Challenger Launch – Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-B (TDRS-B); SPARTAN-203 – Vehicle lost during launch

Vehicle lost during launch.” Yeah, 73 seconds after launch. That’s pretty glib about the first time we got to see seven of our Astronauts die in real time. I didn’t happen to see it in real time.

On 28 January 1986 I was on my way to a 9 am meeting with a group of volunteer corporate fund-raisers for the local Boy Scout Council.* When I got out of my truck at the Community College, Leslie, my fellow District Executive, was leaning against her car shaking her head and listening to the local NPR affiliate. Before I could say anything she blurted out, “The Shuttle just blew up. On takeoff.” I stopped in my tracks and didn’t say anything. I ended up leaning against her car too.

That’s where our mutual boss found us a couple of minutes later and told us that we had to get inside and give him some support because the group of people we were meeting with were, “distracted by the Shuttle thing.” I said, “we’re a bit distracted by this ‘Shuttle thing’ too.” I’m sure I sounded a bit snotty. That’s how I get sometimes… I got told something about ‘your (my) priorities yadda, yadda.’ I don’t exactly remember, I was distracted with that shuttle thing.

Somewhere during the next 45 minutes Leslie and I got a stern talking to because we were unable (and mostly unwilling) to turn the group’s emotional tide of concern about the Challenger disaster towards fund-raising.

I wasn’t cut out for that kind of work and didn’t last long in that position.

I still get a lump in my throat and my eyes get wet when I see that footage.

* (long story, career mistake in hindsight, we’ll speak of it some other time)

NASA Approves Shuttle Flight to Service Space Telescope

This is good news! 🙂

Hubble Saved: NASA Approves Shuttle Flight to Service Space Telescope []

The decision is in and the Hubble Space Telescope is saved.

NASA announced Tuesday that it will go ahead with one final space shuttle mission to repair and upgrade Hubble after months of debate over the risks of such an endeavor.

“We are going to add a shuttle servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope to the shuttle’s manifest to be flown before it retires,” announced NASA chief Michael Griffin at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Baltimore, Maryland, where Hubble engineers and scientists gave him a standing ovation. “This is a day that I’ve wanted to get to for the last 18 months.”

Griffin has long said that he would support a proposed Hubble servicing mission provided its risk did not exceed that already accepted for other shuttle flights. The mission will add years onto the Hubble’s lifetime and will help prepare the space telescope for its ultimate, but controlled, plunge through the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Hubble is one of the great observatories,” Griffin has said. “It has revealed fundamental things about the universe of which we had no idea.”

Griffin said today that the upcoming servicing mission will likely launch aboard NASA’s Discovery orbiter between construction flights to complete the International Space Station (ISS), and is expected to feature no less than four—and preferably five—spacewalks to upgrade Hubble’s optics and make other repairs.

“We’re trying for early May of 2008,” Griffin said. (…)

Astronomers hope the decision means Hubble could still be in operation by 2013 when NASA’s next great observatory—the James Webb Space Telescope—is slated to fly. Hubble’s visible and ultraviolet observations will not be duplicated by JWST, which will scan primarily in the infrared wavelengths, researchers said. also has a Hubble podcast: Hubble: The First Great Space Observatory.

links for 2006-10-25

blivet – Pebble? Snatch what pebble?

Sunday – I’m not sure what’s going on here. I flipped the page, but Sunday’s page (message 624) isn’t showing up.

I’m down for the count. Monday will be here sooner than I suspect.

Ugh. Sounds like Al has the flu. I hope the vaccination kicks in and you recover soon!

[Washington Post] We’ll Get Over It If You Get Off Your High Horse. via Tom at backup brain

Jonas and Aila went Sunday cruising, but did some fine communicating along the way. Jonas turned a phrase near the end that struck me as very poignant, This is what the Swedish dream used to look like. Wow. You have clear vision Jonas. I hope it takes you far.

We finally got to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wu hu zang long). What a great movie. I’d like to see it in the theater again. We went to the matinée about 1 PST figuring the Super Bowl folks would be otherwise occupied.

The Icon Factory now has Iron Chef-themed Macintosh icons. via Pat (42) via the Iron Chef site.

15 years ago the Challenger space shuttle (STS-51-L) was lost seventy-three seconds after liftoff. The Challenger exploded, killing seven people, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, the first civilian passenger on the Shuttle. i was reminded by Jason

Sunday – A Superbowl-free zone


More snow on garret‘s patio. Some nice b/w pics with some Isherwood text too.

Kevin Drennan started a Grateful Dead Weblog. via Dave Scripting News

David at mirth has a great blog today. The twelve steps to political sobriety …

Craig is Just diggin’ some tunes while cooking up a yummy supper. One album he’s playing is a favorite of mine, the James Gang’s second album, Rides Again. I remember being amazed (hey, I was 14) how Joe Walsh worked Cast Your Fate to the Wind into one song (I can’t remember which one now, Funk #49?). Great music.

What’s your Soprano’s Mob nickname? I’m ‘The Quill’. I often do those games and end up with something ridiculous. Finally a semi-decent one. (Note: you get very different results with just your first name, like ‘Cedar Teeth’. LOL!) SirDeath is ‘The Icepick’ using his real name. Obviously a man to be reckoned with. via Dori at Backup Brain

Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass. If you’ve ever tried to replicate those experimental results you’re supposed to in Physics Lab with broken equipment, indifferent TAs, and a Hotel and Restaurant Management major for lab partner you’ll understand. via mike’s weblog

Soft rain off and on last night — right now for that matter. I had several conversations with a damp cat last night. I want out. I want back in. It can’t still be raining — I want back out. Gack! I want back in. I want to walk on your head and implore you to make it stop raining. Meow, meow, meow. Why did you make it rain? I’m such a good kitty. Meow, meow, meow. I can remember standing at the door around 3am in my sweatshirt, old running shorts and disheveled hair watching it rain. I thought, “We don’t need one of those folksy ‘scare away bad things’ totems, we’ll just put up a cardboard cutout of me at 3am.” That should take care of the things that go bump in the night.