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."


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Dinosaurs of a feather flocked together, University of Alberta study finds

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Bird-like dinosaurs were social creatures and likely flocked together, contrary to the popular image of dinosaurs as solitary creatures, suggests a study at the University of Alberta. "It changes our perception of the species quite a bit," said Gregory Funston, a PhD student and Vanier scholar at the University of Alberta. Source
  • Blurring effect comes to iPhone 7 Plus with software update

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK - Apple's iPhone 7 Plus is getting a new camera capability -- the blurring of backgrounds to focus attention on people or other objects in the foreground. Apple's "portrait mode" feature was announced in September but was unavailable until the company released its iOS 10.1 software update Monday. Source
  • Feathered dinosaurs may have 'flocked' together like modern birds: study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON -- An ancient bone bed in a remote Mongolian desert presents tantalizing clues that dinosaurs of a feather may have flocked together for the same reasons modern birds do. Research by University of Alberta paleontologist Gregory Funston says the deposit contains fossils from a bird-like dinosaur that were all about the same age. Source
  • 'Intentional, malicious' cyberattack led to Ontario literacy test system crash

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Ontario agency tasked with administering the first online literacy test to tens of thousands of high school students in the province last week says it was forced to pull the plug by an "intentional, malicious and sustained" cyberattack. Source
  • Heat-trapping gases surge in Earth's atmosphere: UN weather agency

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The World Meteorological Organization says heat-trapping gases in Earth's atmosphere are growing faster than before, surging permanently beyond a troubling milestone. The United Nations agency says global carbon dioxide levels, which first reached 400 parts per million last year, are likely to stay above that symbolic 400 milestone all year and for generations to come. Source
  • Ohio museum's sale of antiquities from Egypt draws criticism

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Ohio's Toledo Museum of Art is selling 68 antiquities from its collection, a move drawing criticism from a nationally known archaeologist and Egyptian officials. The Blade newspaper reports about half the items are from Egypt. Source
  • SpaceX's Elon Musk elaborates on plan to colonize Mars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given more details about his plan to colonize Mars. Musk answered questions on Reddit on Sunday. The session was a follow up to Musk's comments at a space conference in Mexico last month during which he unveiled his plan to send up to 1 million people to Mars within the next 40 to 100 years. Source
  • Why robots are key to redefining the meaning of 'Made in China'

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- The Canbot can say its name, respond to voice commands, and "dance" as it plays Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Other robots China is displaying at the World Robot Conference can play badminton, sand cellphone cases and sort computer chips. Source
  • Univeristy of Maine professor dies conducting research in Antarctica

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ORONO, Maine -- A University of Maine professor has died while conducting research in Antarctica. The university says 50-year-old Gordon Hamilton died Saturday when the snowmobile he was riding hit a crevasse and he fell 100 feet. Source
  • Surfer is third Australian shark attack victim in a month

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SYDNEY, Australia -- A surfer sustained minor injuries on Monday in the third shark attack off New South Wales state north of Sydney in a month, a witness said. The surfer's injuries were "not that serious," former state lawmaker Ian Cohen told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Source