Where were you …

Where were you when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded?


24 years ago yesterday, I was almost 16 years old and a Sophomore in high school in a small town in Central Illinois.  But when I heard about the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion  I was actually inside the grade school up the street where some of my friends and I occasionally went to eat lunch.  We were walking down the hallway when someone came up to us and said “Did you hear that the Shuttle blew up?”.  This was a kid who had gone home for lunch and had just come back to school for the afternoon.  I didn’t believe it at first … thought he was trying to pull a prank or tell a bad joke or something.

We didn’t have any TVs in school way back then and the Internet and cell phones didn’t even exist, so it was all by word of mouth.  If kids didn’t go home during lunch period to eat, most of the rest of us might not have even heard the news till we all got home from school that afternoon.  I remember watching it over and over and over on the TV after school.  They played the explosion about a million times.  The newscasters were all studying the video to see if they could see the Shuttle orbiter or at least the crew cabin falling from the cloud. I wasn’t sad at the time I was watching it because I had this hope that the crew had somehow survived or gotten blown clear of that horrible looking explosion.

A couple years later, when I was a senior, I painted a 2 story tall mural inside my high school dedicated to the Challenger crew:  http://www.leucht.com/blog/2007/02/space-shuttle-challenger-mural-at-my-high-school/

A couple years later when I was in college, I got a co-op job with NASA. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Kurt Leucht

P.S. Feel free to leave your own answer to the question “Where were you…” below in the comments or directly in the Facebook comments if that’s where you found this article.

4 thoughts on “Where were you …”

  1. I believe I was on my way to Freshman lunch…I remember being in the cafeteria when we were all trying to get updates…Since I went to a private school in Omaha, NE they hauled in a TV to the cafeteria and we got updates. Although I remember being heart broken when they kept showing the explosion over and over again….it was like 9/11….a day I won’t forget!!!

  2. I was in college at USF and watching the launch from my bedroom window. I’ll never forget that sight!!

  3. I was a sophomore at Titusville High, I remember I was in 3rd period, Mr. Mulligan’s Physical Science class. A couple of the girls who went out to watch the launch came back in and said it blew up, I remember the Mr. Mulligan didn’t believe them, until another teacher stuck his head in and confirmed it. We were all in shock.

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