I’ve taken several opportunities to share what I remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. It was one of those traumatic national events that is burned into my long-term memory. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It could be argued that my childhood dream died that day.
I also remember the day US astronauts returned to space. I was in middle school and our teacher turned on the radio so we could listen to the launch. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope that the shuttle would arrive safely into Earth’s orbit. Although I didn’t plan on being an astronaut anymore, I was still thrilled that we had returned to space. I’m pretty sure I saw my social studies teacher wipe away a tear during the broadcast.
The shuttle that ushered the United States back into manned spaceflight Space Shuttle Discovery.
I also remember when Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry. I called my mom and talked to her about it. It was another sad day for the space program. And it was Discovery’s mission to take the charge and lead the American space program back into manned space flight.
There’s something pretty special about this machine. So when we had an 8-plus hour layover at Dulles International Airport, 10 minutes away from the National Air and Space Museum, I knew what we needed to do. We had to go see Space Shuttle Discovery.
I realized this wasn’t going to be the biggest of deals to our boys. But that was OK. I had to see it. I wasn’t missing out on yet another opportunity to see a space shuttle in person. I had to see Discovery.
And I did.
And it was amazing.