Monday, February 1, 2016

A reflective week

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Like many aerospace enthusiasts in my generation, my mind this week has turned to the skies.

I remember the fateful morning 30 years ago last week, in my elementary school classroom along with perhaps every other student in the county, watching the shuttle launch that was to carry a teacher into space. Some images sear themselves into your minds' eye. For me, the Challenger exploding over the skies of Florida the morning of January 28, 1986 is one of those images.

13 years ago this morning, shortly before 6am Pacific Time, I awoke to what sounded like a sonic boom. Growing up an hour from a major Air force base in the '80s, it was a familiar sound, but a sound rare enough in recent years to wake me.

Later that morning I learned of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. At the time that I awoke, the shuttle would have been around 200,000 high over Central California, and roughly 150 miles south of my home at the time. Images later that morning of the shuttle disintegrating over Texas are seared into my mind.

I'll never know if I heard Columbia making it's final re-entry to Earth. At 200,000 feet and 150 miles distant, it seems a stretch, though not impossible. Regardless, like the Challenger disaster 17 years earlier, as a lifelong aerospace nut February 1, 2003 is a morning forever frozen in my mind.

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at), or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen