The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28, 1986.
Associated Press + More
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — As families of the lost Challenger astronauts gather with NASA to mark the space shuttle accident's 30th anniversary, there's a new voice to address the crowd.
June Scobee Rodgers — widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee and longtime spokeswoman for the group — is passing the torch to daughter Kathie Scobee Fulgham.
Fulgham — not Rodgers — will be on the stage for Thursday morning's ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. And making a rare appearance in the audience will be schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe's son, Scott, with his own family.
"It's going to be wonderful to watch the pages turn, " Rodgers said earlier this week. The second generation "can now speak for our family and speak for the nation, " she said, adding that she's looking forward to these grown astronauts' children "sharing their stories, their beliefs and their leadership."
For the seven astronauts' loved ones, Jan. 28, 1986, remains fresh in their minds.
Steven McAuliffe, a federal judge in Concord, New Hampshire, still declines interviews about his late wife Christa, who was poised to become the first schoolteacher in space. But he noted in a statement that although 30 years have passed, "Challenger will always be an event that occurred just recently. Our thoughts and memories of Christa will always be fresh and comforting."
McAuliffe said he's pleased "Christa's goals have been largely accomplished in that she has inspired generations of classroom teachers and students." She would be proud, he noted, of the Challenger Learning Centers.
McAuliffe is presiding over a trial this week in Concord, and so son Scott will represent the family, part of the next-generation shift. Scott and his sister are now in their 30s. The McAuliffes normally do not take part in these NASA memorials, so Scott's presence is especially noteworthy.
Along with the other Challenger families, Rodgers established the Challenger Center for Space Science Education just three months after the shuttle disintegrated in the Florida sky. Unusually cold weather that morning left Challenger's booster rockets with stiff O-ring seals; a leak in the right booster doomed the ship.
Today, there are more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, mostly in the U.S. More are being built.
"They're not just a field trip for kids. They're actually lessons learned, " said Rodgers, an educator who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "That's why they've lasted."
McAuliffe's backup, Barbara Morgan, a schoolteacher from Idaho, rocketed into orbit in 2007 aboard Endeavour as a fully trained astronaut. Morgan was invited to speak Thursday at Rodgers' request.
Besides Dick Scobee and Christa McAuliffe, the Challenger dead include pilot Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka and Gregory Jarvis.
Seven more shuttle astronauts died Feb. 1, 2003, aboard Columbia; that commander's widow, Evelyn Husband Thompson, will attend Thursday's ceremony.
The event will honor the Columbia Seven as well, along with the three Apollo 1 astronauts killed during a launch pad test on Jan. 27, 1967. NASA also plans observances at Arlington National cemetery, Johnson Space Center in Houston and elsewhere.
At Kennedy, the Scobee contingent will number 12, including June's son Richard, a major general in the Air Force, and a 16-year-old granddaughter.
Dick Scobee was 46 years old when he died aboard Challenger barely a minute into the flight. Both his children are now in their 50s.thinking around corners podcast thinking around the box thinking around corners meaning thinking around the same lines thinking around definition thinking around the topic means thinking as a hobby thinking as a designer is all about thinking as a hobby summary thinking as a hobby pdf thinking as a science thinking as computation thinking as an adjective thinking as a designer is all about quizlet thinking at the top of my head thinking off the top of my head why do i think so much in my head what part of your brain is at the top of your head on top your head thinking at the margin example thinking at the margins means deciding about thinking at the margin economics examples thinking at the margin meaning thinking at the margin involves thinking at the margin principle thinking before you speak thinking before you act thinking before acting thinking before you act is called thinking before reacting thinking before acting word thinking before you speak word thinking before you speak quotes thinking behind constitutional convention thinking behind synonym thinking behind an action thinking behind the doing thinking behind it thinking behind transformational leadership thinking behind physics thinking behind architecture thinking others are beneath you thinking between the lines thinking between the lines meaning thinking between the posts thinking between deleuze and merleau-ponty thinking between between thinking and feeling absurd thinking between art and design thinking difference between man and woman thinking beyond borders thinking beyond the text thinking beyond the text questions thinking beyond action thinking beyond yourself thinking beyond the box thinking beyond the text activities thinking beyond synonym thinking but not doing thinking but not acting thinking but you thinking but it but i'm not thinking but thinking makes it so but thinking makes it so meaning but thinking makes it so who said thinking by walter d wintle thinking by nf thinking by analogy thinking by design thinking by first principles thinking by danusha lameris thinking by tim brown thinking by walter d wintle explanation contra thinking design thinking contra despite thinking despite thinking meaning thinking during sleep thinking during meditation thinking during pregnancy thinking during dreams thinking during salah thinking during the scientific revolution thinking during depression thinking during anxiety even thinking even thinking crossword clue without even thinking without even thinking synonyms without even thinking twice thinking about food even when not hungry