30 years since Challenger: New voice at astronaut's memorial

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

  • Liberals spending $50M to help students K-12 code

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Liberal government is following up on a 2017 budget promise to spend $50 million to help children learn to code as soon as they start school. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the government's new CanCode program, which hopes to train students from kindergarten to Grade 12 on coding and other digital skills, during a stop at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. Source
  • Rocket launched from New Zealand successfully deploys satellites

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A rocket launched from New Zealand on Sunday successfully reached orbit carrying small commercial satellites. California-based company Rocket Lab said its Electron rocket, which carries only a small payload of about 150 kilograms (331 pounds), successfully deployed an earth imaging and two other satellites for weather and ship tracking after blastoff from the Mahia Peninsula on North Island's east coast. Source
  • Amazon's 1st high-tech grocery store opens to the public

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Amazon.com Inc will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday after more than a year of testing, the company said, moving forward on an experiment that could dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail. The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Source
  • How a Toronto researcher is giving a 15-year-old his voice back with the blink of an eye

    Tech & Science CBC News
    In many ways, Jacob Trossman is just like many 15-year-old boys. He's embarrassed when his mom hugs him in public. He goes to high school and loves drama class. He enjoys a good joke. But there are a few things that also set Trossman apart from his peers. Source
  • AI, virtual reality make inroads in tourism sector

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A hotel room automatically adjusting to the tastes of each guest, virtual reality headsets as brochures: the tourism sector is starting to embrace new technologies, hoping to benefit from lucrative personal data. In a prototype of the hotel of the future on display at Madrid's Fitur tourism fair, receptionists have disappeared and customers are checked-in via a mirror equipped with facial recognition. Source
  • Insurers: Canadian weather getting wetter, hotter and weirder

    Tech & Science CTV News
    If it seems as if the weather's getting weirder, you're not wrong. An index of extreme weather in Canada compiled by the insurance industry backs that up. "Yes, we see definite trends that can't be explained by normal variability," said Caterina Lindman of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. Source
  • Plastic debate bags the question: what to do with all our junk?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    As Halifax staff research the idea of banning plastic bags in the municipality, they'll soon find themselves entangled in a global problem with no simple solutions. Tony Walker, assistant professor in Dalhousie University's School for Resource and Environmental Studies, said six months ago, all seemed well. Source
  • More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles wash into Florida bay

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TAMPA, Fla. -- More than 1,000 sea turtles stunned by unusually cold weather have been rescued from waters off Florida's Panhandle this month. U.S. Geological Survey sea turtle expert Margaret Lamont said cold-stunned sea turtles began appearing in St. Source
  • How the internet broke the emergency response system

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeHoly covfefe! President Trump's year in tweetsTrump's odds of staying in office: The Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter for Jan. 19Figure skating breaks the ice between North and South Korea ahead of the Winter Olympics'Wasted': Why recycling isn't enough when it comes to e-wasteHow the internet broke the emergency response systemDIY net neutrality: Can municipal broadband help protect internet freedom?Riffed from the Headlines 20/01/2018Full Episode Source
  • Facebook to emphasize 'trustworthy' news

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Facebook is announcing a second major tweak to its algorithm, saying it will prioritize news based on survey results of trustworthiness. The company said in a blog post and Facebook post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg Friday that it is surveying users about their familiarity with and trust in news sources. Source