Friday, 28 January 2011
Today is the 25th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle. All 7 members of its crew were killed and the disaster was a major setback for the USA's space programme. The disaster was particularly memorable as millions of people around the world watched it happen live on television. This was partly because one of the astronauts was a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who had been selected and trained to inspire students to take an interest in NASA's work. Many schools took an interest in the launch, which was beamed live to many classrooms. Nonsuch HP remembers very clearly watching the footage on Newsround the next day. This BBC article examines how Americans reacted to the tragedy.
President Obama's recent reference to a "Sputnik Moment" in his State of the Union address shows America's continuing fascination with space exploration. It will be interesting to see if competition from China (who last month, just as America's Secretary of Defence was visiting, unveiled their latest "stealth" jet fighter) will encourage a new "space race" to develop.
PS: You can read more about Sputnik (and hear it!) here and here on Nasa's history pages.