Posted by: morgan1965 | January 29, 2011

Space Exploration: Satellites and Shuttles

Many folk vividly remember the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, which occurred on Tuesday, January 28, 1986. The Challenger Shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight. The seven crew members on the flight died in the explosion and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

It was about noon on that day, and I was driving home from the church in Montclair, New Jersey. Ray Brown, a faithful volunteer at the church, was with me, and I was about to drop him off at his home. We had the radio on, and we heard the flash news report: The Challenger Shuttle had exploded. That moment is etched in my memory forever. The nation was surprised by the tragedy. The anniversary of this tragedy is being observed all across America.

I also have a vivid memory of the announcement that came from the USSR when I was middle school. On October 4, 1957, the USSR launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. This successful launch surprised the United States. One month later, the USSR launched Sputnik 2 that carried the dog, Laika, into orbit. No nation had ever launched a satellite into orbit successfully. There was a lot of chatter across the nation about the fact that the USSR was ahead of the US. The US government determined that it had to “catch up” and surpass the USSR.

I also remember that the first US effort to launch a satellite failed when a Vanguard rocket exploded during liftoff. The first successful US satellite launch finally came on January 31, 1958. That satellite was known as Explorer 1.

There was a fierce competition between the US and the USSR as the two nations entered into a space race. Now the two nations cooperate with each other in space exploration. We have come a long way in this arena of cooperation.

Along the way, the US landed a man on the moon. All of this has happened during my lifetime. It is truly amazing.

Think about it!

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Responses

  1. Very nice post. I was too young to remember Challenger, but remember the Columbia disaster. The anniversary has made me realize how important the space program was to me as a demonstration of what we can do with proper amounts of determination, courage, and faith. If you haven’t yet, I’d highly recommend the Discovery series When We Left Earth. It really brings to light the miles of courage that were at play.


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