30 years since Challenger: Families to mark space shuttle anniversary

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- As families of the lost Challenger astronauts gather with NASA to mark the space shuttle accident's 30th anniversary, there's a new voice to address the crowd.

See Full Article

June Scobee Rodgers -- widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee and longtime spokeswoman for the group -- is passing the torch to daughter Kathie Scobee Fulgham.

Fulgham -- not Rodgers -- will be on the stage for Thursday morning's ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. And making a rare appearance in the audience will be schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe's son, Scott, with his own family.

"It's going to be wonderful to watch the pages turn," Rodgers said earlier this week. The second generation "can now speak for our family and speak for the nation," she said, adding that she's looking forward to these grown astronauts' children "sharing their stories, their beliefs and their leadership."

For the seven astronauts' loved ones, Jan. 28, 1986, remains fresh in their minds.

Steven McAuliffe, a federal judge in Concord, New Hampshire, still declines interviews about his late wife Christa, who was poised to become the first schoolteacher in space. But he noted in a statement that although 30 years have passed, "Challenger will always be an event that occurred just recently. Our thoughts and memories of Christa will always be fresh and comforting."

McAuliffe said he's pleased "Christa's goals have been largely accomplished in that she has inspired generations of classroom teachers and students." She would be proud, he noted, of the Challenger Learning Centers.

McAuliffe is presiding over a trial this week in Concord, and so son Scott will represent the family, part of the next-generation shift. Scott and his sister are now in their 30s. The McAuliffes normally do not take part in these NASA memorials, so Scott's presence is especially noteworthy.

Along with the other Challenger families, Rodgers established the Challenger Center for Space Science Education just three months after the shuttle disintegrated in the Florida sky. Unusually cold weather that morning left Challenger's booster rockets with stiff O-ring seals; a leak in the right booster doomed the ship.

Today, there are more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, mostly in the U.S. More are being built.

"They're not just a field trip for kids. They're actually lessons learned," said Rodgers, an educator who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "That's why they've lasted."

McAuliffe's backup, Barbara Morgan, a schoolteacher from Idaho, rocketed into orbit in 2007 aboard Endeavour as a fully trained astronaut. Morgan was invited to speak Thursday at Rodgers' request.

Besides Dick Scobee and Christa McAuliffe, the Challenger dead include pilot Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka and Gregory Jarvis.

Seven more shuttle astronauts died Feb. 1, 2003, aboard Columbia; that commander's widow, Evelyn Husband Thompson, will attend Thursday's ceremony.

The event will honour the Columbia Seven as well, along with the three Apollo 1 astronauts killed during a launch pad test on Jan. 27, 1967. NASA also plans observances at Arlington National cemetery, Johnson Space Center in Houston and elsewhere.

At Kennedy, the Scobee contingent will number 12, including June's son Richard, a major general in the Air Force, and a 16-year-old granddaughter.

Dick Scobee was 46 years old when he died aboard Challenger barely a minute into the flight. Both his children are now in their 50s.

"For so many people, 30 years, it's definitely history. It's in the history books," Rodgers said. For the family, "it's like it's just happened, which in a way keeps Dick Scobee young in our hearts, and the joy and excitement he had for flying."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • NASA'S Juno spacecraft finds chaotic weather, massive cyclones over Jupiter's poles

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Once it began skimming the giant gas planet's cloud tops last year, NASA's Juno spacecraft spotted chaotic weather, including enormous cyclones over Jupiter's poles, according to new research. Scientists released their first major findings Thursday. "What we've learned so far is earth-shattering. Source
  • New research reveals what happens when adults learn to read

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Learning to read is hard when you are a kid, and even harder as an adult. New research published Wednesday in Science Advances has revealed what your brain is doing when you learn to read as an adult, and found that brain regions associated with ancient functions are largely responsible for our ability to read. Source
  • Forecasters predict above-normal Atlantic hurricane season

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MIAMI -- Warm ocean waters could fuel an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, while storm-suppressing El Nino conditions are expected to be scarce, U.S. government forecasters said Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Source
  • Google AI wins 2nd game against Chinese go champion

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A computer beat China's top player of go, one of the last games machines have yet to master, for a second time Thursday in a competition authorities limited the Chinese public's ability to see. Ke Jie lost despite playing what Google's AlphaGo indicated was the best game any opponent has played against it, said Demis Hassabis, founder of the company that developed the program. Source
  • Honeybee losses in U.S. decline, but some warn too early to celebrate

    Tech & Science CBC News
    There's a glimmer of hope for America's ailing honeybees as winter losses were the lowest in more than a decade, according to a U.S. survey of beekeepers released Thursday. Beekeepers lost 21 per cent of their colonies over last winter, the annual Bee Informed Partnership survey found. Source
  • U.S. honeybee losses improve from horrible to bad

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- There's a glimmer of hope for America's ailing honeybees as winter losses were the lowest in more than a decade, according to a U.S. survey of beekeepers released Thursday. Beekeepers lost 21 per cent of their colonies over last winter, the annual Bee Informed Partnership survey found. Source
  • Russian spies may have backed email phishing campaign in effort to spread disinformation

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A lengthy report by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab details a global espionage campaign involving email phishing attacks and leaked falsified documents. Although there is no "smoking gun" so to speak, there is overlap with previously reported Russian activities, the report released Thursday suggests. Source
  • From phishing to false documents, researchers detail a cyberespionage campaign that points to Russia

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A lengthy report by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab details a global espionage campaign involving email phishing attacks and leaked falsified documents. Although there is no "smoking gun" so to speak, there is overlap with previously reported Russian activities, the report released Thursday suggests. Source
  • Foster owl takes fluffy, orphaned owlet under its wing

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A fluffy, five-week-old orphaned baby owlet is getting a second chance at survival thanks to the help of a rescue centre in B.C. and the guidance of an experienced foster owl. The adorable little male hatchling has been recovering at the Raptors Rescue Society in Duncan, B.C. Source
  • New Zealand test rocket makes it to space but not to orbit

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand - California-based company Rocket Lab said Thursday it had launched a test rocket into space from its New Zealand launch pad, although the rocket didn't reach orbit as hoped. The company said its Electron rocket lifted off at 4:20 p.m. Source