For one generation, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was an event that was forever tied to the moment it happened. For my generation, one such event was the Challenger disaster.

I distinctly remember watching coverage of Challenger's launch with the rest of my class in the library of Mt. Carmel Elementary in Abbeville. We were in 6th grade, and were excited not only by the shuttle launch but also, to be out of class.

There was some chatter in the room as we watched Challenger's ascent, whispering among the students and teachers assembled. Then, stunned, confused silence. We weren't sure, like millions of others watching across the planet, what we were seeing.

Once the anchors made it clear that the Challenger and her crew were lost, one of our teachers led us in a prayer for the 7 astronauts. Including  Christa McAuliffe were Commander Francis R. 'Dick' Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair and Ellison S. Onizuka, and payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, an employee of Hughes Aircraft Corp.

The video above explains what led to the disaster and explains that the Challenger crew was likely still alive until the crew cabin struck water, piloted heroically by Michael Smith.

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