(A guest post from Leila Johnston.)
It’s almost exactly 25 years since one of the most tragic incidents in the history of space flight. Mission STS-51-L was to be the 25th Space Shuttle mission, an event surrounded by tremendous excitement and optimism. Children around the world knew that a schoolteacher was on board – a thrilling prospect that made the whole thing so much more human. But Sharon Christa McAuliffe never made it into space. With the world watching, the craft disintegrated just 73 seconds after launch, and all seven crew members perished in a twist of smoke. The story of Challenger is so tragic that it still feels very difficult to even look at the pre-flight footage or publicity shots. It was also avoidable.