CONCORD, N.H. – Twenty-five years ago, the nation paused to watch what was supposed to be a moment of achievement and inspiration: the Challenger mission, carrying New Hampshire school teacher Christa McAuliffe, blasting off to space.
As it turns out, the moment turned into a national tragedy witnessed by school children all over the United States when the space shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its flight, killing McAuliffe and six other crew members on Jan. 28, 1986.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Deb Lawler and Rod Fritz discussed that day.
McAuliffe’s own students at Concord High School in New Hampshire were watching live when the event happened, and WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Deb Lawler was assigned to watch with them that day.
“The place was a large auditorium full of students and teachers and colleagues of Christa McAuliffe,” said Lawler.
After the explosion, Lawler said everyone was confused.
“It took a long time to figure out that something was terribly wrong,” said Lawler. “Eventually they evacuated the school. I mean, they sent everyone home.”
In the mission, McAuliffe was set to become the first teacher in space.
“That was so exciting. The kids were enthralled with the idea, first of all, that a teacher (would be) in space anyway, but their teacher, Concord, New Hampshire’s Christa McAuliffe. Those kids were so proud of her.”
Lawler, who described McAuliffe as “bubbly” and “happy,” added that she can’t believe it has already been 25 years since the tragic event.