Twenty five years ago, on January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger broke into pieces, a mere 73 seconds into its flight. National tragedies have such a personal affect upon us that we can remember exactly where we were, exactly what we were doing, when we heard that John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
Many of us were watching the Challenger lift off because of the presence on the crew of Christa McAuliffe, the first member of the Teacher in Space Project. I was sitting in a beauty salon getting a haircut and watching the coverage on the television set there in the salon. We stood and sat in horrified silence, scissors poised, heads turned away from our reflections in a mirror, as we watched the shuttle come apart, claiming the lives of Michael J Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik.
Carl Sagan, who is gone but not forgotten, provided this vision of the human future in space, circa 1994. The music sucks*, but it is wonderful hearing Sagan’s voice and seeing those images and thinking about this astounding pale blue dot that we all call home.
* I felt compelled to add my own music as I thought about this video and this date in our national history. I don’t think that my choices are as wildly divergent as they appear at first glance:
Gustav Holst Planets, Neptune
Joni Mitchell, Woodstock, Big Sur,CA 1969 “We are stardust, million year old carbon…”
What music would you substitute?