Former astronaut Marc Garneau recalls Challenger explosion

Former astronaut and current Transportation Minister Marc Garneau can clearly recall the horrific moment he saw the Challenger space shuttle explode over the Atlantic Ocean – the same shuttle he’d flown in just two years prior.

See Full Article

Garneau spoke with CTV News Channel on Thursday, to look back on the tragedy on its 30-year anniversary and remember the seven astronauts who lost their lives aboard Challenger.

“I remember that day, being at the Johnson Space Center,” Garneau said. “We had trouble really processing what we were seeing with our eyes … we were in a sense playing tricks with our minds and trying not to believe something that inside ourselves we really knew what had happened.”

Garneau said the anniversary marks “a very sad day for me personally” because he had trained and become close friends with the astronauts who died. He had also journeyed aboard the Challenger in 1984 as the mission’s payload specialist.

The tragedy unfolded on Jan. 28, 1986 as Challenger launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The lift off appeared normal until the shuttle began to careen off course and, just 73-seconds into the flight, burst into flames.

The explosion was broadcast live around the globe, marking one of the darkest days for NASA and space travel as a whole. All seven crew members aboard were killed, including Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher who’d been specially chosen to fly in the mission.

“There had been 25 space flights with a shuttle and they’d all went well, but then, suddenly, this one went horribly wrong,” Garneau said.

The explosion took an immediate toll on the astronaut community, who were “very shaken” by the accident, Garneau said, despite the keen understanding of the possible dangers of space travel.

“That day we were reminded very, very clearly that things can go wrong. The important thing afterwards was to learn from the experience for everybody and to try to make sure that it didn’t happen again,” he said.

An investigation later determined that a faulty “O-ring” seal on a rocket booster allowed hot gas to escape, leading to the explosion. Cold temperatures are believed to have factored in to the explosion as well.

Garneau says that space travel will never be “100 per cent safe,” but important lessons were learned.

“I think NASA came out of it as a safer organization, that they had learned some important lessons and that in fact is what is most important here,” he said.

Despite the Challenger’ disaster, Garneau said the lure of space remained strong.

“I don’t think there was a single astronaut who had not flown who said ‘I’m quitting. I’m not going to be in this profession.’ I think that the lure for the individual of wanting to go into space is so powerful we are prepared to accept some risk,” he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Disturbing increase' in violence against journalists worldwide

    World News CBC News
    The murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a year when more than half of all journalists killed were targeted deliberately reflects a hatred of the media in many areas of society, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday. Source
  • Yemeni mother wins travel ban waiver to see dying 2-year-old son in U.S.

    World News CTV News
    A Yemeni mother on Tuesday won her fight for a waiver from the Trump administration's travel ban that would allow her to go to California to see her dying 2-year-old son. Shaima Swileh planned to fly to San Francisco on Wednesday after the U.S. Source
  • Thunder Bay police board acknowledges 'unequivocally' existence of systemic racism

    Canada News CBC News
    Members of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board have acknowledged "unequivocally" that systemic racism exists in both the Thunder Bay Police Service and the civilian oversight board, after reviewing reports from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. Source
  • Chicago officers likely didn't see train that killed them

    World News CTV News
    CHICAGO -- Two Chicago police officers may not have seen or heard the commuter train that fatally struck them because they were focused on another train coming from the opposite direction, a department spokesman said Tuesday. Source
  • A look at where the investigations related to Trump stand

    World News CTV News
    A look at where the investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him: WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT? Trump is facing criminal investigations in Washington and New York. Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Source
  • Trump Foundation reaches deal to dissolve amid lawsuit

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump's charitable foundation reached a deal Tuesday to go out of business, even as Trump continues to fight allegations he misused its assets to resolve business disputes and boost his run for the White House. Source
  • Body of 7-year-old who died in U.S. custody returning to Guatemala

    World News CTV News
    GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemalan authorities say they have completed documentation needed to clear the way for repatriation of the body of a 7-year-old migrant girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marta Larra says Jakelin Caal's cadaver is expected to return to Guatemala on Thursday and then be taken to her hometown of San Antonio Secortez. Source
  • Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canada's privacy watchdog is warning marijuana users who are worried about their personal information being collected to pay with cash rather than plastic. Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien gives the advice in a statement on his website trying to help pot sellers and buyers understand their privacy rights. Source
  • Armed forces avoided using Norman's name, left no record trail: witness

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A Canadian Forces member says his commanding officer appeared proud when he revealed last year that military officials had intentionally avoided using Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's name in internal correspondence. The Forces member, whose identify is covered by a publication ban, recounted the conversation in testimony Tuesday as Norman's lawyers again accused the government of playing political games with their client, who has been charged with allegedly leaking government…
  • Parents demand removal of priest who criticized son's death

    World News CTV News
    DETROIT -- The parents of a Michigan teenager who died by suicide will ask the local archdiocese to remove the priest who questioned whether their son would go to heaven during his funeral. Jeff and Linda Hullibarger told the Detroit Free Press that they plan to meet with Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron on Saturday. Source