It was a moment in history that left an indelible impression on millions of people, many of whom were only children at the time.
A moment that 30 years later brings up the question, ‘Do you remember where you were when it happened?”
It was January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded less than two minutes after liftoff.
All seven people on board were killed, including six astronauts and one high school social studies teacher named Christa McAuliffe.
She was to be the first civilian to go into space.
First major tragedy to air on live television
The event was broadcast live on CNN with thousands tuning in, including students who watched the live TV event in classrooms across North America, partly because McAuliffe was on board.
I was one of them, and remember clearly watching the event unfold in a classroom with my fellow Grade 8 social studies students.
The excitement of the moment was followed by disbelief and then horror, as the realization of what we had just witnessed sunk in. To this day, I can still picture the look of sadness on my teacher’s face when it became clear that the space shuttle had exploded.
It was also one of the first major tragedies to air on live television, in a time when we didn’t have 24-hour news coverage, the internet, or social media.
Tributes pour in on social media
Thirty years later, it’s a very different media landscape and today, many gave tribute to the Challenger explosion on social media, including Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who posted to Twitter:
“30 yrs ago today these 7 died in the Challenger accident. Spaceflight is forever safer, more capable. I honour them.”