Those were the words of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Shaddox, as she graded papers, head down, intent on her work and unaware of the confused faces of her students as we alternately looked back and forth between the TV screen and her desk. For what seemed like an eternity, we sat there in silence, wondering if this was standard procedure – a fireball and two separate booster trails. Well the boosters are supposed to fall off, right? They showed us that earlier. Most of us had never seen a shuttle launch before, so what did we know? I think we tried to get Mrs. Shaddox’s attention, but I seem to recall her telling us to keep watching, and saying “this is history in the making” more than once. Or maybe my brain just latched onto that sentence, given that it was perhaps the single greatest understatement of my elementary education.
One of us got her to look up at the TV screen, I guess, or maybe the phrase “obviously a major malfunction” caught her ear, or maybe Mrs. Binam from across the hall came into the room. The teachers weren’t sure what to do with a school full of kids who had just watched seven people die on live television. I don’t remember anything else after that.
Tomorrow marks 20 years since the Challenger disaster.
Somebody on Fark had a unique vantage point I found interesting:
I was 5 years old on a plane to Disney World when this happened. The captain announced what had happened and suggested we all look out the left window. In the distance you could see the booster trail. I remember seeing tons of shiny objects drifting to the ground.