A lot of you who read this blog presently have probably been following me for less than a year. January 28th is not one of my favorite days. One is a reason shared by this country, one is a reason shared in my family. All of which I’ve spoken about before on this blog over the years, so I will be referring to previous entries here.
Most of you my age or thereabouts know what happened on January 28, 1986. On a rare cold midday in Florida, Space Shuttle Challenger was launched with a crew of seven, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Slightly past a minute later, a rupture in the orange external fuel tank caused its explosion along with that of Challenger. The crew cabin of the shuttle detached from the rest of the vehicle, and if the astronauts were not killed by the sudden loss of air pressure after the explosion by not instantly finding emergency oxygen masks, the impact into the Atlantic Ocean (reportedly at 200 G’s) likely did.
The real tragedy of it all was that one man, Roger Boisjoly, a mechanical engineer for Morton Thiokol, tried to warn NASA that the O-rings on the bottom of the soild rocket boosters his employers created would not work in such extremely cold (for Florida) weather conditions. That day, NASA wouldn’t heed a review of new evidence for whatever reasons they had, and tragically went ahead with the launch anyway. I always felt bad for Boisjoly, as NASA didn’t treat him kindly nor with any sort of public apology. He was a man who was right at the wrong time, facing a bureaucracy convinced it could do no wrong.
It was the one event when I was in high school that you remember where you were when it happened, and in the house I grew up in, only the 1983 Americas Cup (where the Aussies stunned the Americans to end their 132 year reign as the top yachtsmen in the world) comes close in terms of an event that carried such gloom, and that event was a well distant second.
Little did I know that five years to that very day, I’d lose my dad to cancer.
I’ve talked about this back in 2012 and 2014. Tomorrow (maybe Friday if predicted rain continues to hang around), I will once again be paying him a visit at Serenity Gardens over in Largo. All I have to say for now is that cancer sucks, and it always has. Maybe someday in my lifetime there will be a cure for it, and I hope for everyone in the human race that the day cancer is cured for all time will come soon.
Talking about it is how I cope, so thanks for reading. Hope I’m not depressing you too much, but what’s the point of a personal blog if you can’t share what makes a person tick?
(Note: Originally when I posted this entry on January 28th, I erroneously said that one of the solid rocket boosters hit the external tank, causing it and the shuttle to explode. On February 1st, I read an article on Space.com that correctly points out that the two SRB’s remained intact after the explosion, thus the need to have to auto-destruct each of them, and I thus made the necessary corrections.)