35 years ago today Challenger exploded off the east coast of Florida. I won’t waste your or my time by writing at length about the specifics, as there are countless sources across the web and in print books at your disposal. The Challenger disaster was, for my generation if not universally, a defining moment in our lives, particularly if you were among the millions to be caught up in the excitement leading up to Challenger’s launch. In the months and days prior to that fateful launch, I felt that anything was possible. Witnessing its destruction on live television was a numbing, exhausting experience. Challenger, as was later reported by the Rogers Commission, suffered from multiple design and engineering flaws that snuffed out the lives of seven men and women.
History rightly remembers Challenger’s crew as tragic heroes. The principles they stood for remain the spark that ignites not only the imagination of science and exploration, but that of science fiction writers as well. The real-life exploits of past, present, and future pioneers will always inspire the written word. We owe these individuals a debt of gratitude that cannot easily be repaid.