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Previously-Unseen Photos of Challenger Disaster Appear Online

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the things-in-odd-places dept.

Space 207

Nerval's Lobster writes "Twenty-six photos of the space shuttle Challenger disaster have appeared online. According to io9, "Michael Hindes of West Springfield, MA, was sorting through boxes of his grandparents' old photographs when he happened upon 26 harrowing photos of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster of 1986. To his knowledge, these photos have never been publicly released." Hindes told the Website that the photographer was "a friend of his grandfather, who worked for NASA as an electrician on the Agency's hulking, spacecraft-schlepping crawler transporters." Someone at Reddit (which also has a lengthy thread devoted to the images) also threw together a GIF of the liftoff and subsequent explosion."

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PHB's strike again (4, Informative)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#45978495)

from what i remember the worker bees warned against a launch due to ice and whatever but the bosses said to launch

Re:PHB's strike again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978529)

I am sure the Yanky/Nazi(NASA and all) got a promotion.

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#45978599)

people got fired

this was the first launch with a civilian on board, a teacher. i think they had to delay it a few times and the bosses wanted it to launch of the PR

Re:PHB's strike again (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | about 6 months ago | (#45978939)

As well they should have. Stuff happens, and I bet NASA did try to make it safe, but they failed horribly in this case.

Richard Feynman ripped NASA a new butthole too. After listening to him it became readily apparent that there was a huge disconnect between the administrators and the engineers. In some cases the administrators decided to go with estimates that were several orders of magnitude different.

I can give NASA a pass when it's really difficult to engineer and design a controlled explosion to get you into space, *and* then how to work, survive, and come back.

However, everyone of those people that got fired deserved that and more for their "acceptable flight risk" mentality that was in hindsight unreasonably reckless.

Re:PHB's strike again (5, Informative)

nharmon (97591) | about 6 months ago | (#45979095)

There was a great television movie last year about Feynman's involvement in the Rogers Commission. William Hurt plays the part of Feynman and does a magnificent job.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2421662/ [imdb.com]

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979453)

I seem to remember a documentary about it, One of the engineers, who warned about the cold and was ignored, had tears in his eyes when he said how he was still questioning himself why he hadn't be more insisting that they shouldn't launch

Re:PHB's strike again (1, Interesting)

danlip (737336) | about 6 months ago | (#45979277)

And by "bosses" you mean Ronald Reagan. His State of the Union address was schedule that night, and the multiple delays didn't look good.

An oldie from back ni the day... (1, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 months ago | (#45978761)

You know what NASA stands for, don't ya?

Need Another Seven Astronauts

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (2)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 6 months ago | (#45978981)

That joke was funny when I was in fourth grade. I don't think it's funny anymore.

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (4, Insightful)

blueturffan (867705) | about 6 months ago | (#45979123)

That joke was never funny.

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (4, Funny)

sabs (255763) | about 6 months ago | (#45979119)

Why does NASA only have Sprite?

Because they couldn't get 7 up.

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 6 months ago | (#45979373)

Now that joke was funny. Macabre, but funny. We're well beyond the "too soon" period, so I think people should lighten up a bit. As a species we need to be able to laugh, however wryly, about our mortality sometimes.

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 months ago | (#45979777)

What color was Christa McAuliffe's eyes?

Blue...one blew this way....one blew the other way...

Re:An oldie from back ni the day... (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 6 months ago | (#45979821)

Too soon? I heard Challenger jokes within a week...and that was before the web, kids.

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978653)

Here's a great documentary [youtube.com] about Roger Boisjoly [wikipedia.org] and Challenger.

Re:PHB's strike again (3, Insightful)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 6 months ago | (#45978697)

from what i remember the worker bees warned against a launch due to ice and whatever but the bosses said to launch

Then, on Columbia's last mission, the managers ignored the engineers' concerns over the ice impact that had occurred on launch.

Re:PHB's strike again (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#45978843)

Actually, with Columbia's mission I watched the launch and they immediately questioned the impact. Then a few days into the mission NASA was talking about how they wanted to inspect the damage after they landed. I was thinking the whole time "That looked pretty bad!"

Then it blew up and NASA pretended it was all news to them. I didn't really get it.

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45978999)

If I remember correctly, the computer model predicted nothing much bad was going to happen, so they did nothing when they might have had a small chance of saving the crew. Then, later, someone pointed out that the computer model was based on much smaller impacts, and they had no data from such a powerful impact on the wing. By then it was too late to do anything.

Re:PHB's strike again (4, Interesting)

Talderas (1212466) | about 6 months ago | (#45979413)

The Columbia crew were dead men walking the moment the foam damaged the tiles. Columba was a wreck the moment the foam caused the damage. She would never reach earth's surface whole once she entered space.

The only possible way to get Columbia's crew safely to earth would be to ramp up refitting Atlantis for launch use a crew of four astronauts, and figure out a way of successfully transferring crew from Columbia to Atlantis since they had no equipment to perform an orbiter to orbiter docking. That operation alone would introduce significant risk to both orbiters during the operation due to station keeping further complicated by the fact that air quality in Columbia would have to be significantly reduced so the CO2 scrubbers would last long enough. So hopefully all that station keeping and maneuvering could be solely handled by Atlantis while the cross space transfer of crew is performed.

Performing the rescue itself would have involved doing things in time frames that were never intended and could introduce risk for Atlantis and her crew. It's tragic but I don't think there was any other outcome. The only way it could have ended without death would have been if the foam impact had been observed during launch while it was still possible to abort. It wasn't noticed until after Columbia was in orbit.

Re:PHB's strike again (4, Informative)

Discopete (316823) | about 6 months ago | (#45979609)

This is why every mission after Columbia had an 'Abort to ISS' option that would allow the shuttle to dock with ISS and wait for the relief shuttle (which was sitting at a 48 hour to launch stage IIRC) to return them home.

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979823)

Or they could have not ignored the foam strikes when they first started happening a few dozen missions earlier just because "hey, nothing bad happened the first few times".

Or they could have had Atlantis ready to go for a planned rescue mission, rather than half-assembled in the VLB with no plans on what to do in this (in retrospect predictable) situation. They did that for Skylab, after all. [wikipedia.org] Why did Columbia catch them with their pants down? Was the generation of people running NASA in 1973 really that different than the people running it in 2003? (Oh, right, Boomers. Never mind.)

Re:PHB's strike again (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979307)

Read Wayne Hale's take on it [wordpress.com] ; he was there:

The excerpt that sticks with me:

Jon Harpold was the Director of Mission Operations, my supreme boss as a Flight Director. He had spent his early career in shuttle entry analysis. He knew more about shuttle entry than anybody; the guidance, the navigation, the flight control, the thermal environments and how to control them. After one of the MMTs when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed, he gave me his opinion: "You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS. If it has been damaged it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?" I was hard pressed to disagree. That mindset was widespread. Astronauts agreed. So don’t blame an individual; looks for the organizational factors that lead to that kind of a mindset. Don’t let them in your organization.

Well, yeah. The State of the Union speech was (-1, Offtopic)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 6 months ago | (#45979167)

scheduled for that night, and old Ronnie Raygun was planning to use the "Teacher in Space" as one of his talking points, afterall...

Re: PHB's strike again (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979383)

Not ice - the warning was that the O rings sealing the joints between sections of the solid rocket boosters would be too stiff in the cold to seal properly and hot combustion gases could leak. That's what happened .

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 months ago | (#45979385)

I think it was a bit more nuanced than bosses vs. engineers. We've had 2 disasters shortly after "run NASA like a business" campaigns. That kind of culture leads to compromises that can work out well for disposable goods, consumer software, etc., but when you're talking about the razor's edge of technology, pushing a launch because delays are bad for PR is going to get people killed.

Re:PHB's strike again (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about 6 months ago | (#45979635)

We've had 2 disasters shortly after "run NASA like a business" campaigns.

Weren't there some disasters before that as well?

Space travel is inherently dangerous and many feel that NASA has actually become too risk adverse.

Re: PHB's strike again (5, Informative)

David Greenberg (3502451) | about 6 months ago | (#45979393)

Not ice - the warning was that the O rings sealing the joints between sections of the solid rocket boosters would be too stiff in the cold to seal properly and hot combustion gases could leak. That's what happened .

Re:PHB's strike again (2)

amorsen (7485) | about 6 months ago | (#45979769)

Would we have heard of the warnings if the launch had been successful? How many of the other launches had engineers warning? I bet they had to override warnings for pretty much every flight.

One of the many problems with the space shuttle program was that people got accustomed to it being routine. Before a commercial plane gets certified and allowed to fly routine flights, it goes through all sorts of testing on how it behaves outside its normal operating envelope. Probably more hours than the entire shuttle fleet ever spent flying in the atmosphere in total. If the space shuttle had been commercially certified, the O-ring problem would almost certainly have been discovered in the certification phase, but of course the certification would end up costing at least as much as all the shuttle launches ever done.

Link to GIF (5, Informative)

clinko (232501) | about 6 months ago | (#45978501)

The gif [imgur.com] is pretty amazing, credit [reddit.com] .

Re:Link to GIF (2, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | about 6 months ago | (#45978971)

Gotta say -- looking at the pics brought back the emotional response I felt at the time. Much more subdued (so may years later), but nonetheless, I felt the shock and dismay and I was back in my parents home watching this unfold on a 19" tube TV.

Re:Link to GIF (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 6 months ago | (#45979303)

Yeah, dunno why but I still can't watch it. Turn my head every time it comes on. Just thinking there are pieces of people up there. :(

Re:Link to GIF (1)

mwehle (2491950) | about 6 months ago | (#45979569)

Yeah, dunno why but I still can't watch it. Turn my head every time it comes on. Just thinking there are pieces of people up there. :(

I think telemetry indicated the crew were intact and alive until they hit the water, weren't they? As I recall at least one member was conscious enough to switch on a colleague's oxygen on the way down.

Small pictures are small (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978505)

Is there any way to have them blown up?

Re:Small pictures are small (1)

Badooleoo (3045733) | about 6 months ago | (#45978539)

Not funny...

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978611)

People who can laugh at life's ineviable hardships and disasters - whether their own or someone else's - bounce back.

People who are afraid to face life and death and laugh at him, cower.

If we are ever to go out into the stars, we will have to take a lot more of these disasters. If we cannot acccept that fact and laugh in the face of death, then we might as well stay huddled on this rock until our species comes to an end.

Re:Small pictures are small (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 months ago | (#45978783)

Hmm...I remember this one:

What's the new official drink at NASA?

Ocean Spray....

Re:Small pictures are small (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978895)

There are no bathroom sinks because astronauts are expected to wash up ashore.

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978949)

People who can tell a troll when they see it - whether their own or someone else's - get through life.

People who are too autistic to understand the difference between a troll and a legitimate post, fail hard.

etc.

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978755)

Uh, this happened almost 30 years ago. I think it's time you let go of the sorrow and start to laugh again.

Re:Small pictures are small (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 6 months ago | (#45979347)

for a brief period after Challenger, NASA became Now After Seven Astronauts

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979403)

Make like the Challenger crew and lighten up. Gawd...

Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978543)

Is that a joke?

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#45978579)

To Soon!

Re:Small pictures are small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978909)

AND BEYOND!

Re:Small pictures are small (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#45978779)

Actually, my favorite was the Challenger License Plate [forbes.com] with the message "KABOOM"

frist psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978525)

frist psot

Still Disturbing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978547)

I witnessed this even. It was quite jarring at the time.

Even now, these pictures are still disturbing.

Re:Still Disturbing (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#45978711)

I witnessed this even. It was quite jarring at the time.

Even now, these pictures are still disturbing.

It was the "Kennedy Moment" of my generation.

We know where we were, what we saw, how we felt. Everything is burned into our memories. I can still hear the rattle of the ventilator.

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

berashith (222128) | about 6 months ago | (#45978797)

like everyone else who saw it that day, I completely remember every bit of what I was doing, and who was around. I am always confused though, as so many other people were in school watching it, and I was at a friends house playing basketball. Were all the people still in school on the west coast and the explosion happen in an afternoon?

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 6 months ago | (#45978945)

It happened at 11:48am EST on a Tuesday. Were you skipping school or something?

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

edjs (1043612) | about 6 months ago | (#45979513)

Given that there was a civilian teacher going up for the publicity, a lot of schoolrooms were watching it live.

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#45978925)

I was sitting in the library in Junior High when my friend came up to me and said "Hey, did you hear the Challenger exploded and everyone was killed." I thought he was joking, but he gave me that dead serious look. It was a pretty sad day, particularly as I remember watching the news the night before where they were interviewing Christa McAuliffe, and she looked as excited as any civilian would be at getting a chance to go into space.

It's a funny thing that the Columbia disaster didn't seem to cause the same kind of shock.

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

jess_wundring (450803) | about 6 months ago | (#45979001)

I remember - I was sitting in Harry's Chocolate Shop, having a beer, and watching the launch on the telly with a couple of friends.

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

cusco (717999) | about 6 months ago | (#45979185)

My housemate and I were out in the yard splitting wood when his girlfriend drove up, jumped out of her car and yelled "The Space Shuttle just blew up" over her shoulder as she ran into the house. She already had turned the TV on by the time we got inside, I remember her muddy footprints across the floor and the cats trying to figure out what the excitement was about. We watched the coverage for about half an hour, then I got really, really stoned and split Douglas fir until my muscles ached and I couldn't hold the maul any more.

Re:Still Disturbing (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#45978735)

I was 6 when this happened, and I still remember it vividly. I wanted to be an astronaut right up until the point I saw that. Being an astronaut seemed like an interesting job. But it had never occurred to me how dangerous it could be.

I remember watching the disaster on television (3, Interesting)

Carl Stanley (3489489) | about 6 months ago | (#45978555)

when I was a child. The odd thing, is that my memory is mostly about my father's reaction, and the look on his face. A look of shock and disbelief. The failure of infallible American tech.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (4, Insightful)

netsavior (627338) | about 6 months ago | (#45978647)

I think in many ways, this was the end of "The Future" The space-age ended the day the Challenger exploded.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979351)

Really? I always pinned it at the time when Gene Cernan made a little speech on the Moon and then we, as a species, packed up our shit and left, never to return. (There's no money in it, you see.)

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

mwehle (2491950) | about 6 months ago | (#45979615)

Really? I always pinned it at the time when Gene Cernan made a little speech on the Moon and then we, as a species, packed up our shit and left, never to return. (There's no money in it, you see.)

Yes, that was my impression, also. The shuttle's justification was so tied into military missions, and there was so little connection to anything deep space, that it seemed to me the "space age" largely ended with the Moon missions. The Viking landers were pretty darn cool, though.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979803)

Yes and no. A bunch of us in and around the space biz already knew the Shuttle would never live up to its promises, but the general public was (as usual) blissfully unaware until then.

Some of us re-convened the CACNSP [wikipedia.org] and concluded that the Shuttle program be kept alive but without expectation of any significant advancement (as a "No Output Division" for aging bureaucrats), that the hypersonic NASP was a dead end, and we started pushing toward what eventually became DC-X. Our belief in the space-age lasted a few years longer.

Alas, eventually the bureaucrats at NASA eventually took over DC-X and broke it, then diverted attention with X-33, a technology development program (DC-X was intended to re-use existing technology wherever possible) with silliness like Y-shaped LiAl tanks and linear aerospike engines, and the worst possible mixed mode launch and landing (VTHL) with no survivable abort mode in the first minutes of launch.

SpaceX and a few others finally seem to be swinging the thing around. Someone should institute a D. D. Harriman [wikipedia.org] prize just so it can be awarded to Elon Musk.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (4, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | about 6 months ago | (#45978713)

when I was a child. The odd thing, is that my memory is mostly about my father's reaction, and the look on his face. A look of shock and disbelief. The failure of infallible American tech.

It was the failure of 'infallible' American money.

Money and technology are such strange bedfellows. On the one hand the connection between them is obvious and inextricable, but on the other lies the question of progress. Money is required to develop and ultimately build a technology, and yet by virtue of the money invested that technology is expected to create money - usually more than was invested in the first place. So, in an way, from money's perspective all that technology is designed to do is to create money - anything else that technology does is a mere byproduct of the process of developing it to make more money.

In other words, according to money, any technology which does nothing but make more money is a perfect technology.

This might explain why things like FOSS and any "Open" technology movement is perceived as so vile and abominable a thing by money. How can a technology not take nor make money? I think it causes money to be a little nervous that technology can exist without it. After all, since money is anything accepted as payment for goods or services, doesn't that mean that money can actually be nothing?

And by the way I asked money if it cared that I anthropomorphize it and it said it couldn't care less.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (3, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#45978815)

The freakiest thing was when someone said the crew compartment survived the explosion. It's one thing to die from an explosion--quite another to watch it coming at you in a fall from 48,000 feet.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978927)

It is freaky that the crew survived the explosion and floated down in the crew compartment knowing they were going to die....that's what was freaky.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45979017)

It is freaky that the crew survived the explosion and floated down in the crew compartment knowing they were going to die....that's what was freaky.

Except none of them knew it, because they were unconscious within a few seconds.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (4, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 6 months ago | (#45979137)

Analysis of the wreckage showed that at least a few of them survived long enough to activate emergency oxygen systems and flip some switches in an attempt to regain control.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45979705)

Analysis of the wreckage showed that at least a few of them survived long enough to activate emergency oxygen systems and flip some switches in an attempt to regain control.

Yes, but none of them were conscious. The emergency oxygen couldn't keep them conscious at altitude, and the oxygen use rates were consistent with them being unconscious.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45979327)

Maybe not. Emergency Oxygen had been turned on by Judy Resnik, and nothing after that point was outside the bounds of human survivabilty, except the impact, of course.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45979715)

Maybe not. Emergency Oxygen had been turned on by Judy Resnik, and nothing after that point was outside the bounds of human survivabilty, except the impact, of course.

Except, again, the emergency oxygen packs weren't capable of keeping them conscious at that altitude. That's why they started wearing SR71 pressure suits on later missions.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45979105)

It is freaky that the crew survived the explosion and floated down in the crew compartment

"Floated" down? I think the word you are looking for is "plummeted." I'd also allow "plunged."

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

mwehle (2491950) | about 6 months ago | (#45979637)

It is freaky that the crew survived the explosion and floated down in the crew compartment

"Floated" down? I think the word you are looking for is "plummeted." I'd also allow "plunged."

Ditto! When I read "floated down" my first reaction was WTF?!

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45979015)

It wasn't the first time and won't be the last time that aviators have known they were going to die in a crash. A horrific way to go, I guess, but one that has actually been pretty well studied. Many pilots end up going unconscious from G-forces or suffer from heart attacks prior to impact.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979401)

Possibly, if your dad was born after 1967 or so, or he would have remembered the Apollo 7 fire and the Apollo 13 near disaster.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (1)

mwehle (2491950) | about 6 months ago | (#45979673)

Possibly, if your dad was born before 1963 or so, or he would have remembered the Apollo 1 fire and the Apollo 13 near disaster.

FTFY.

Re:I remember watching the disaster on television (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979493)

Was he too young and/or too stupid to remember Apollo I?

The fallen.... (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#45978617)

Francis R. Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist
Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist
Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist
Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist

God speed to all of them....

Re:The fallen.... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978717)

+5 Informative? Wish I had some "Overrated" mod points.

Re:The fallen.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978747)

Says the whiny bitch... Wahh wahh....

Still brings a tear to my eye (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45978673)

Fucking morton thiokol, upper management should have been put in prison for man slaughter.

It was a pretty horrible day at Thiokol. (5, Interesting)

Medievalist (16032) | about 6 months ago | (#45979807)

I dunno. I was at Morton-Thiokol when it happened, and I've read the Rogers report and Congressional hack job, and I'm pretty convinced that NASA told our upper management to overrule our engineers, and then when Boisjoly et al tried their damndest to contact NASA directly (bypassing Morton Thiokol's upper management entirely) NASA called us and said "shut down your loose cannons". So while I would not say Morton Thiokol's management was blameless, their actual fault was that they gave in to threats and let NASA Marshall bully them. And it's not entirely unlikely that the bullying ultimately came directly from the White House, where Reagan's handlers were anxious to have him give his launch speech, and were upset that the mass media was ridiculing repeated launch delays. Stuff rolls downhill, but not back up.

This is slightly at odds with the Wikipedia version of events, but that version has Reagan "quoting" High Flight instead of using the more accurate word "plagiarizing" so I tend to trust my memory more.

When then-popular news figurehead Dan Rather suddenly decided he was a forensic rocket scientist (after weeks of publicly ridiculing NASA for being afraid to launch in bad weather, and no doubt contributing to the pressure to launch) and told America live on-air that faulty SRBs were the cause of the disaster, our phones started ringing... and ringing... and never stopped, all the rest of that day. You wouldn't bother to put the phone down, just press the switch hook and take the next call before it rang. "No, mom, it wasn't our fault. As far as I know. I gotta go. <switchhook> No, Aunt Louise, it wasn't our fault, as far as I know. <switchhook> Hi honey, Yeah, I don't know yet, I'm sure I'll be working late, don't hold dinner, tell the kids I love them, bye" etc. etc. etc.

Where is the ka-boom? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978709)

There was supposed to be an earth-shattering ka-boo.. Oh wait, there it is... Nevermind

Rocketdyne days (5, Interesting)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 6 months ago | (#45978841)

I was a young engineer working for Rockedyne on the SSME at the time and we were the last to know. The announcement over the intercom was that there was a "system failure" on flight 51 and incoming calls were blocked (pre internet day youngsters). I guess they didn't want anyone to panic and go back and edit the turbopump or engine build books that would impede any investigation. We didn't know about the catastrophic failure until people went out for lunch that day.

Re:Rocketdyne days (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45979035)

You will recall that the first thing they did on the Columbia crash was lock the doors to prevent information from leaving the rooms. It's in the manual..... Everything is is in the manual.

Re:Rocketdyne days (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about 6 months ago | (#45979115)

You will recall that the first thing they did on the Columbia crash was lock the doors to prevent information from leaving the rooms. It's in the manual..... Everything is is in the manual.

--
Oh no. Not again.

A rather morbidly apt sig.

I remember... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45978853)

I was in elementary. They dragged us down to the library to watch the coverage. I was bored out of my skull but at least it got us out of class.
I wasn't going into space. And this was nothing really new to the world either.

Everyone was shocked... And i... I was smart enough to understand there are massive risks in blasting off from the planet and SHIT HAPPENS sometimes.
If you give up just because of one failure. Well. No advancement for you.

I also remember the joke i heard the next day.... What color was sally rides eyes (the teacher on the shuttle).
BLUE! One blew this way, one blew that way...

Re:I remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979111)

Sigh... "No, I wanted a Bud Lite". I was in high school. Gallows humor I guess. It's not like we enjoyed the whole thing, really.

Where's the video? (4, Interesting)

Jawnn (445279) | about 6 months ago | (#45978883)

I saw live video, shot from roughly the same vantage point, including shots of the pieces hitting water. Seconds later, that live feed was cut. Since then, only certain portions of that video have ever (to my knowledge) seen the light of day.

Re:Where's the video? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45979299)

You're going to need to be more specific, there are a lot of videos on youtube alone

Re:Where's the video? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 6 months ago | (#45979511)

Sure... Long shot, from the beach, looking out at the water. At least one vessel, light color, roughly center of frame. Pieces of shuttle hitting the water all around it.

Post Challenger Days (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979261)

My grandfather, John W. Townsend, jr., was called in to become Goddard Space Flight Center's 6th Director in response to the Challenger accident. I miss him and all of his stories about NASA and its beginnings. His NASA Medal of Honor is my most prized keepsake of him.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/releases/2011/11-072.html

The amazing thing was not Challenger disaster. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#45979335)

The amazing thing is all the remaining missions that were successful. Challenger disaster was particularly harrowing because, people have gotten accustomed to launch after launch going of (seemingly) flawlessly. To get a magnitude of the engineering, quality control and the process control behind NASA programs, one just has to take a look at the Saturn V rocket engines displayed in Houston. Those things get as hot as the surface of our Sun, the heat shield works by vaporizing ceramics, ...

That it all worked so well was really amazing. It is tragic we lost two shuttles and their crew, but while we mourn the loss, and learn from the mistakes, let us not lose sight of the fact, the more amazing success of the remaining flights. We should define ourselves by the successes.

Re:The amazing thing was not Challenger disaster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979537)

Yeah, yeah, I bought that line right up until 2003, when the same exact normalization of deviance resulted in the same exact loss of seven astronauts.

Don't "define yourself by the successes". Try and forsee failures, so that you can avoid them. Don't ignore problems just because "it worked fine the last few times".

Re:The amazing thing was not Challenger disaster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979787)

To get a magnitude of the engineering, quality control and the process control behind NASA programs, one just has to take a look at the Challenger disaster.
They failed to listen to the engineers warnings, and years later when another disaster occurred it was determined that NASA hadn't learned anything from the earlier disasters.

Safety and quality control my ass.
They were just lucky that any of the shuttles made it back without exploding.

A bit of a letdown (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45979375)

When I read the title and summary, I was expecting something different. It is cool and all turning up something from an attic, but the pictures that were found were pretty much the same as the bazillion pictures and videos that were taken and shown twenty-something years ago. My expectation seeing this story was that these photos were somehow unique.

Where were you when you got the news? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#45979381)

I was groggy collecting milk from the milkman at about 6 AM IST, having picked the newspaper Indian Express, Bangalore edition, from the front steps.

Re:Where were you when you got the news? (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45979495)

NO you weren't.

Happened at 11:38 AM EST, or 22:38 IST.

I wonder if you just not remembering correctly, or are a lying bastard?

Also, maybe I missed something.

Re:Where were you when you got the news? (2)

edjs (1043612) | about 6 months ago | (#45979591)

Well, he did mention a mention a newspaper - sort of like a blog, but with horrible latency.

I was out looking for work.. (1)

MooseDontBounce (989375) | about 6 months ago | (#45979545)

I just graduated in December with my freshly minted BS in CompSci. I was driving my 1977 Dodge Aspen to meet my new wife at the hospital.. She was a new LPN. The radio broke in that something happened during the launch. I saw explosion when I looked into a patients room. The first and only time I've every gasped out-loud. That was one cancer, one total-loss house fire, putting one child through college and another into college, ready to celebrate 30 year of marriage to the same nurse. (Now a RN administrator) ago.

Thanks, but no thanks. (1)

trongey (21550) | about 6 months ago | (#45979555)

I was watching the launch on TV when it happened. I still can't watch the videos or look at the pictures.

I remember it well (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | about 6 months ago | (#45979825)

I remember that morning. I was watching the launch on TV as I was getting ready to go to work, and had to head out during a launch hold. Later that morning one of our part-time folks came in and asked if we had heard about Challenger? I felt myself go grey and took the rest of the day off.

Every generation has events where everybody remembers exactly where they were. I wasn't born when Sputnik 1 was launched, and I was a bit young to remember Kennedy. But I do remember Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Apollo 13, Challenger, Lady Di and 9/11. Funny that four of those events are related to space...

Side note: a shame the pictures only show the left SRB, not the right one that caused all the trouble.

...laura

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