Like many children across the U.S., I watched the launch live that cold day in January 1986 when the Challenger exploded. Our excitement at seeing a teacher launched into space was amplified by the fact that one of our own teachers at Liberty Elementary, Mr. Beltzner, had been a semi-finalist in the Teacher in Space Project. Though I was only in 2nd grade and Mr. Beltzner taught 5th grade, I remember seeing his tears as we all walked the halls, zombie-like, after the explosion.
Two and half years later, I was fortunate to be in Mr. B's class the day Discovery took to the skies again and re-launched the space program. Of all the kids watching the launch in my classroom that day, Mr. B was the most excited. My love of space was born out of disaster but fueled by the hope and passion of one educator who taught me you could reach for the stars, fail, and still keep reaching. Ronald Reagan said something similar three days after the Challenger accident:
|"Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain."|
I know I will never be an astronaut or fly in one of the shuttles, but I will always carry the excitement and the risks of launch day inside to remind me that though I might fall short as a writer, I might fail from time to time, I can still pick myself up and reach for the stars.
T-10, 9, 8, 7....
If you want to watch the launch live, go to nasa.gov or click here.