Tag Archives: explosion

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.

Space Shuttle Challenger mural at my high school

When I was a student at Deer Creek Mackinaw (Dee-Mack) High School in Mackinaw, Illinois (1984 thru 1988) I was really into anything that was even remotely related to art. I loved drafting classes and all of the different art classes too. Our art teacher, Mrs. Schultz, organized some of the best art students there and had them paint a few organized and approved murals around the school. I was allowed to paint a Space Shuttle mural upstairs on the big 2-story wall just outside the library. I was also into space, and I had some NASA photos and mission patches and I basically just painted a collage of some of the items in that material. I dedicated the mural to the crew of the Challenger mission that was lost during their launch on January 28th, 1986. This large mural was a big project for a high school student … and I never actually technically finished the mural. I had intended to paint land masses on the earth, but never got around to it. I took these photos in the summer of 2002, so the mural was at least there for 14 years. I think they had to paint over it a few years ago, though.