Around the Globe: America marks 30 years since the Challenger disaster

John Tompkins

Thirty years after the space shuttle Challenger exploded on liftoff, Americans from around the country paused to remember the seven crew members who lost their lives in the disaster. Dozens of the victims’ family members attended a Jan. 28 wreath-laying ceremony and memorial service at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the site from which Challenger took to the skies for the final time. The shuttle broke apart just 73 seconds after takeoff when a rubber seal on one of its solid rocket boosters failed in the near freezing temperatures recorded that morning. Among those on board was Concord, NH social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was to be America’s first educator in space. In an address to the nation on the night of the tragedy, President Ronald Reagan said the astronauts had “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”