Fascinating Horror on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Originally published at: Fascinating Horror on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster | Boing Boing


Apparently I watched this happen on live tv when I was very little. My mom sat me down in front of the tv because she had to take care of some stuff around the house. When it happened she ran in quickly and turned off the tv


My class watched it live (first grade), but i was out of school that day as my great grandmother had just died and the funeral was that day…


I went to Catholic school for some reason I always thought we watched this when I was in second grade. Maybe that was a different launch and that’s why I don’t recall any specific drama about the tragedy.

What I do recall? The myriad tasteless jokes we were telling in the after math. For a bunch of fifth graders they were extremely dark jokes. In retrospect I wonder if we were all damaged or what.


My elementary school class watched it live too.


A lot of American K-12 kids were watching that launch live. Christa McAuliffe was about to become the first American teacher launched in space and schools were very much interested in sharing that inspiring moment with the students.


I didn’t watch it live but I remember children’s television being interrupted with a newsflash and them promptly showing it to an audience of children.


I was already a young adult when this happened, but as fate would have it one of my co-workers was doing some multi-tasking and had brought a television set into work that day.


One of my teachers was a finalist which made it somewhat close to home. For some reason we were out of school that day–maybe parent-teacher conferences, or a teacher work day. I was at a friend’s house and we were playing a game when his sister ran into the room and yelled, “The space shuttle just blew up!”

My friend and I laughed. It was an odd reaction and neither of us really thought there was anything funny. We’d seen the first shuttle in person before its launch, and watched he first launch on TV. It was just so unimaginable that I don’t think we could process it as something that would really happen, that did really happen.

Yes, it definitely damaged a lot of us.


Interesting corrective to my memories in the video. I’ve always thought of Feynman’s figuring out the o-ring problem as another example of his genius (yes yes, I know he was an asshole toward others, especially women).

I didn’t know that he’d actually been (basically) told the solution by a NASA employee after dinner one night. TIL!


Date: January 28, 1986

I was in the Full Moon Saloon bartending to an empty room, turned on the tv and there it was falling out’a the sky. Turned off the tv, that’s enough for me.


Kids are kids, nothing is sacred (esp. to kids), and humor (dark and tasteless though it may be) is a pretty natural reaction to dealing with trauma. There are two jokes I can still remember from that time as well.

For some reason my class wasn’t able to watch the live broadcast, but I remember my teacher telling us what had happened.


Home from work with our duaghter, she wasn’t quite a year old. Watching it on the only tv we owned, a small portable.

I remember the initial speculation that it was possible they survived. Thank goodness there was not 24/7 news back then to fill with experts and computer simulations.

But there was the National Enquirer.

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It wasn’t that he figured it out. He demonstrated in front of congress that the debate was pointless because none of them had a clue what was needed to get to the core issue. He cut through the horseshit and demonstrated what they had been debating in theoretical terms fro hours. He showed a bunch of clowns how to do it and get to the point meaningfully in a way that anyone could understand. He “taught” them. That was what he was really good at. I don’t think he expected the lesson to stick, but it sure made an impression on a lot of viewers that politicians are not arbiters of truth and if you want to talk about facts hire an expert and listen to them. He just cut through the bullshit like only (well … ) Feynman could.


I know, that’s what I said.

Yep. I remember gathering that he was a very popular teacher.


Fascinating Horror IS a good channel.

I didn’t see the even live, but someone came in to the class and told us it blew up and we saw it on a TV in the library.

I still have my copy of Weekly Reader about it.

His genius in that case was the demonstration of the problem and the presentation of it to laypeople with his usual flair.

ETA: I see it’s already under discussion.


Like everyone above, I was middle-school aged and watched this live. I became kinda obsessed with it and have watched and read everything about it since.

I thought I knew all there was to know about Challenger, but somehow this video is the first place I’ve seen mention that the crew survived the explosion and had time to enable emergency oxygen and radios, then rode the crew compartment back down to the ground. That’s so much more horrible than I even knew. :pensive:

Oh god, yes. I loathe the part of my brain that still retains all the “jokes” that we all repeated around the school yard. So, so horrible. I won’t even repeat any of them here but I remember them all. Are kids broken in this way, or don’t know how to process empathy? Or is this a coping mechanism? I don’t know.


@gracchus and @timquinn , so you both knew he’d actually been told the solution by someone else?

Did he say so during his presentation, or ?