tv Legacy of Christa Mc Auliffe CSPAN May 30, 2020 10:44am-10:56am EDT
>> next, a look back at the life of christa mcauliffe, one of criminals who died on board of the ill-fated space shuttle challenger in 1986. >> 15 seconds. robert: we were in the grandstands and we were located directly behind christa's parents. >> lift off. robert: after the launch, everyone was yelling and very thrilled that we were seeing our colleague fly in space. the sequencing of it was such that after approximately two minutes, we are supposed to see the separation of the solid rocket boosters, two minutes and 10 seconds. and i knew the sequencing and after about a minute and 30 seconds, we started to see some plumes that were not correct. and the vast majority of the people in the grandstand there,
who were not familiar with the sequencing, they were cheering. and i said no, that's not right. something is wrong. at that point, the announcer at the kennedy space center said over the intercom, there appears to have been a major malfunction. in fact, i'll never in my life forget those words that first came over. i am saying to people around me, that is not right, something is wrong. at that point, he then, after a few more seconds, says it appears the shuttle has exploded. we're seeing pieces falling down out of the sky. president reagan: today is a day for mourning and remembering. nancy and i are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle challenger. we share this pain with all of the people of our country. this is truly a national loss. 19 years ago almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground.
but we have never lost an astronaut in flight. we have never had a tragedy like this. and perhaps we have forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle. they, the challenger seven, were aware of the dangers and overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. we mourn seven heroes -- michael smith, dick scobee, judith resnick, ronald mcnair, ellison onizuka, gregory jarvis, and christa mcauliffe. we mourn their loss as a nation together. robert: christa enjoyed teaching very much like i think most of us who were selected in the teacher in space program. we were all enthusiastic about educating our students and developing in them a real thirst for knowledge. christa was originally from framingham, massachusetts, and she was a social studies teacher who had conquered high school
for several years before the teacher in space program got announced. and the opportunity to fly in space and do something unique in education and to teach students all over the world, the excitement of space exploration appealed to her as it did to me, as a science teacher. the opportunity to fly in space. president reagan: today i am directing nasa to begin a search in all of our elementary and secondary schools and to choose as the first citizen passenger in the history of our space program one of america's finest, a teacher. robert: the teacher in space program was a program first announced by president reagan back in 1983, where they were going to have a citizen passenger fly aboard the space shuttle and teach some very exciting science lessons from space.
there were almost a half million teachers across the country who asked for the application form thinking you sign your name on the form and you are in the running. but it actually was a whole packet of essays that we had to write to apply for the teacher in space program. once you got that application packet, a lot of the teachers realized that this was more involved than what they wanted to do. that itself was a weeding out process. ultimately, from the half a million teachers who asked for the packet, there were 11,000 of us who filled out that application. from the 11,000, ultimately from within each state, the state chief school officers selected a number of the applicants from their states to then bring in and have interviews.
there were originally 114 of us candidates brought to washington, and during that week we were in washington, in addition to meeting all the other candidates and all these people who were interviewing us and the nasa officials and astronauts, we also got to meet one another and we became a very close group of friends. originally from the 112 of us in washington, they selected 10 finalists. those finalists were brought down to houston, texas, for two weeks of intense physical evaluation and testing. they measured everything you could imagine and they actually took them up in the infamous vomit comet. where they went up and threw down these parabolic dives to experience weightlessness. from those final 10 in washington, christa along with bob morgan, was selected as the two candidates to represent teachers. vice pres. bush: and the winner, the teacher that will be going into space, christa mcauliffe.
she plans to keep a journal of her experiences in space. she said, and this is a quote, "just as the pioneer travelers of the conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, i as a space traveler would do the same." good luck, christa, and god bless all of you. thank you very much for coming. you, too, get one of these. [applause] christa mcauliffe: it's not often that a teacher is at a loss for words. i know my students would not think so. i have made nine wonderful friends over the last two weeks. when that shuttle goes, there might be one body -- but there's going to be 10 souls i'm taking with me. thank you. [applause] robert: i think they were looking for people who were good speakers, had a good charisma,
and that was one of that the things i think sold everyone on christa. those two were then brought to live in houston, texas for six months where they went through very intensive training and evaluation down there. testing. christa was the primary candidate. barbara, if anything happened to christa, and christa could not perform, then barbara was going to fly. in space, she was going to do a field trip of what the space shuttle was all about. and in addition to that, she was going to do some science lessons from aboard, live lessons from aboard the space shuttle. >> here comes the flight crew now. robert: the day of the launch, those of us who were there were surprised they were going to launch the shuttle on the day because of the very cold temperature. it was not florida weather, that you like to think of. it was down in the 20's. that temperature certainly
precluded in my mind any thought that they were going to launch the shuttle that day. but in fact they did. after the launch, everyone was cheering and yelling, and very thrilled that we were seeing our colleague fly in space. the sequencing of it was such that after approximately two minutes we are supposed to see the separation of the solid rocket boosters, two minutes and 10 seconds. i knew the sequencing and here after about a minute and 30 seconds, we started to see some plumes that were not correct. and when the vast majority of the people in the grandstand, who were not familiar with the sequencing, they were cheering when they saw this. i said, that is not right. something is wrong. at that point, the announcer at the kennedy space center over the intercom said, there appears to have been a major malfunction. and at that point, he then,
after a few more seconds, says it appears the shuttle has exploded. we're seeing pieces falling down out of the sky. it immediately hit those of us who are knowledgeable on the program that those pieces, this thing is going a few thousand miles an hour at the time it exploded. they are falling down from several miles high in the sky, that the survivability of that was very, very unlikely. the whole country was devastated. the whole world felt the impact of this tragedy. i mean, the tragedy of it. himi mean, the tragedy of it. the state of new hampshire here, two days later we were back home and we had a big memorial service in front of the statehouse in concord here. and the people, you could hear a pin drop over the whole place as
the governor got out and spoke, a few other dignitaries and state officials. i got out and spoke for a few minutes. and it was quite, quite moving to say the least. concord, i think, originally kind of pulled back, as a lot of people did throughout the country. the fear of something tragic happening kind of was instilled in a great part in concord here. and the idea that came about of establishing the mcauliffe planetarium here as a tribute to christa was a very exciting thing to see. built originally in 1990, the state established this area we are in now. as a christa mcauliffe planetarium where students and
groups from all over the state of new hampshire and other states came in to see planetarium shows and a little bit of the tribute we had around here to christa. in 2009, we added on a huge addition to make this the mcauliffe-sheppard science center, honoring alan shepard, the first american in space. and it helped the people of concord heal and realize that christa was a role model for people all over the country, all over the world. >> west virginia native katherine johnson but at the role in nasa's missions to put men on space and on the moon.