The Van Trump Report

Remembering the Victims of the Challenger Disaster

The Challenger’s launch on January 28, 1986, was supposed to be a celebratory event for NASA. Notable for sending the first civilian into space, high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, the Challenger would take its crew of seven into orbit around the Earth. NASA prepared a special stream for students across the nation to watch the shuttle launch, and children in Florida near Cape Canaveral viewed it live from their schools. But 73 seconds into the launch, disaster struck. The shuttle’s hardware malfunctioned due to unexpectedly cold weather conditions, rocket boosters fell from the craft, and the crew compartment was sent flying into the Atlantic. President Reagan was scheduled to deliver the State of the Union (SOTU) address on the evening of January 28, 1986. He learned what happened to the Challenger while preparing for a pre-SOTU lunch, and knew he had to change the topic of the speech. Reagan’s administration hired Peggy Noonan to write what would become one of the most well-remembered addresses in presidential history. In the speech, Reagan emphasized the importance of the Challenger crew members’ work, calling them “pioneers.” He then addressed the nation’s children, who had all been watching as teacher McAuliffe was set to become the first citizen in space. You can watch Reagan’s full speech HERE. (Source: Ranker)

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