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CHALLENGER TRAGEDY

January 28, 2011


25th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHALLENGER TRAGEDY


Twenty-five years ago today, January 28, 1986,  the space shuttle “Challenger” broke apart in a cloud of fire & smoke, just 73 seconds after liftoff, resulting in the deaths of all 7 crew members.  Today a memorial service is to be held at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.



The Challenger crew included:  Dick Scobee (commander), Michael Smith (pilot), Gregory Jarvis, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair & Judy Resnick.



Christa McAuliffe, a 37 year old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, had been selected to be the first civilian to travel in space.


President Reagan cancelled his State of the Union message & instead spoke to a shocked nation & the world.  He said:


“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning as they prepared for their journey, waved goodbye & “slipped the surly bonds of earth ‘to touch the face of God’.”



An investigation later finds a failure in the “O” ring seal in one of two solid fuel rockets.   It also will conclude the unusually cold temperatures at the Cape at the time of launch contributed to the tragedy.



For more information on the Challenger tragedy, I recommend “7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster” by James Oberg at:

www.msnbc.com/id/11031097/ns/technology_and_science_/space/  


Here is a sample:


“The shuttle did not explode and the flight did not end at 73 seconds into launch.  Challenger was torn apart from the boosters which continued to climb. Pieces (of the Challenger climbed) to 65,000 feet and then arched back into the water.  The cabin hit the surface 2 minutes and 45 seconds after break up…”



Mr. Oberg writes that “few people actually saw the launch” live on television.  It was being broadcast on CNN but not on the other major networks.  I was watching CNN at home that morning because school was cancelled due to snow.  


I remember being puzzled by the flame coming from the shuttle in a place where I had never seen it before & then the fireball.  I remember it being so odd that the NASA communicator continued to read data as if nothing had happened.  Then, at one point, he said:  “a major malfunction”.




January 28, 1961


From a “declassified” White House Document issued by McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor


President Kennedy met with Vice President Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  


The meeting, called by the President, took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House.  The subject of the meeting is the current situation in Cuba.



Allen Dulles reports that Cuba is now a communist controlled state and that Premier Fidel Castro is in the process of building up his military.  He also reports that there is increasing opposition to the Castro regime & that the CIA is giving military training to anti-Castro Cuban exiles.


As the meeting ended, it was decided that the CIA will continue its activities in regard to Cuba & the Department of Defense will review proposals for the active deployment of anti-Castro Cuban forces in Cuban territory.


Note:  On April 17, 1961, the invasion at the “Bay of Pigs” will take place.  Check this blog on April 17, 2011 for more information.


January 28, 1985


“WE ARE THE WORLD”


Today 45 major recording artists record “We Are the World”, a song written by Michael Jackson & Lionel Ritchie.  The idea for the production came from Harry Belafonte to raise money for African famine relief.


In addition to Jackson & Ritchie, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles & Bob Dylan join the recording session.


The record, produced by Quincy Jones, will sell 7 million copies & raise more than $60 million for African famine relief.












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