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

  • Montreal mosque denies asking that female construction workers be barred from site

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Members of a Montreal mosque are denying a TV report it asked for female construction workers to be excluded from a site opposite their building. They say they were surprised and astonished to hear about the report broadcast on the TVA network. Source
  • Kingston man, 60, charged with sexually assaulting daughter, 16

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. - Kingston police say they have charged a 60-year-old man for allegedly sexually assaulting his teenage daughter. They say they were contacted by Family and Children's Service about a suspected sexual assault last Friday. Source
  • Former 'Apprentice' star Omarosa Manigault Newman to leave White House job

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The White House says Omarosa Manigault Newman -- one of U.S. President Donald Trump's most prominent African-American supporters -- plans to leave the administration next month. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Manigault Newman's resignation is effective Jan. Source
  • Theresa May trying to fend off party dissent over Brexit deal

    World News CBC News
    British Prime Minister Theresa May warned rebellious lawmakers in her own party they could endanger the smooth exit from the European Union if they tried to change her Brexit blueprint later on Wednesday. May has tried to avert a rebellion in Parliament by promising Parliament a series of votes on any deal to leave the EU "as soon as possible" after Brexit talks end, but offered little new ahead of Wednesday's session. Source
  • 'Inflammatory' claims cited in appeal of Saskatchewan swimming mishap settlement

    Canada News CBC News
    The University of Regina is appealing a jury's decision that awarded $9.1 million to a woman who was left a quadriplegic after a swimming accident at the school. Miranda Biletski was 16 in June 2005 when she hit the bottom of the university's pool during a dive. Source
  • Alabama voters were sharply divided by race, religion, gender, exit polls indicate

    World News CBC News
    U.S. political pundits routinely caution against making sweeping statements based on exit poll data from elections. They also warn that special Senate or House races are unique in normal circumstances, let alone one in which an already controversial candidate faced potentially damning allegations of sexual misconduct that only arose during the campaign. Source
  • Ex-NHL star's wife: Trump made advance on me in elevator

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The wife of Hall of Fame hockey player Luc Robitaille has tweeted about an encounter with Donald Trump more than two decades ago in an elevator at Madison Square Garden. Stacia Robitaille wrote Monday on Twitter that Trump "was aggressive & told me I was coming home with him. Source
  • Republicans grill deputy attorney general over perceived special counsel bias

    World News CBC News
    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, facing congressional questions about anti-Donald Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI officials assigned to the Russia probe, defended special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday and said he had seen no cause to fire him and didn't receive encouragement to do so. Source
  • Blue Origin successfully launches and lands upgraded spacecraft

    World News CBC News
    Private space company Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed an upgraded rocket and a new crew capsule that it bills as having "the largest windows in space." The seventh flight of the company's New Shepard suborbital spacecraft at the company's West Texas launch site Tuesday carried a test dummy called Mannequin Skywalker, equipped with sensors. Source
  • Canada's response to Rohingya humanitarian crisis tops $50M

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadian donors have chipped in $12.5 million to help Rohingyas escaping violence in Myanmar, bringing Canada's total aid to address the humanitarian crisis to $50 million. More than 625,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, most of them women and children. Source