posted on Aug, 13 2017 @ 12:26 AM
Mission 51-L (“Lima”) and the world blew up that day.
Challenger rolled out, over on her back…and then all hell broke loose. The conflagration was unimaginable.
I was coming home from work that day…I’d worked on Challenger. My roommate told me Challenger blew up. I was crushed. Never more crushed than
that moment. He’d recorded it, over and over.
When I saw the boosters separate, tears were in my eyes. I knew it was over. I’d been out there in the valley and witnessed the testing. There
was NO way the Shuttle could survive a booster separation at that altitude!
I sat and blinked my eyes, over and over. I just couldn’t believe it. I’d just come home from setting the booster supports.
We built the rail cars, which hauled the SRB’s to the Cape. It was an “All-In” proposition. That was how it was back then…we’re
“all-in”………or you were out! We built the supports, on the rail cars….3/4” stainless plate.
They’d bring the rail-cars out to the desert and load the SRB sections. My Gawd, they stink!! (like Sulfur).
Just one spark…40,000,000 million pounds of energy. Everything had to be perfect. BUT….
Just a wrong seal, in the freezing morning.
The boosters all came together well, along with the vehicle.
Just one wrong seal. The crew were so hopeful, so bright. I think I cried for four days. They were sitting on top of ten million tons of TNT.
I saw the SRB’s separate, and I knew it was over. Nothing could survive that. I knew it was over. The main (liquid oxygen) tank had exploded. I
remember being amazed at the SRB’s flying off until detonation.
And so I sat there, in front of the TV, watching incredulously. I was just in shock. Total shock.
In the weeks ahead the investigators would drill us for days, but nothing ever took the pain away from that day…January 28, 1986.
A day which will live in infamy, in my mind, forever!