launchpad fire that killed astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee on the Apollo 1 Mission to the moon. I have posted about this before - and it is of course, one of the reasons I am known as the Brave Astronaut. This month, the movie Apollo 13 has been playing with some frequency, and it's one of those movies that I will stop and watch if I come across it. In that movie, Jim Lovell's (played by Tom Hanks) asks him about the fire that killed Grissom, White, and Chaffee. Lovell tells his son they fixed the door so that kind of tragedy would never happen again - which it didn't.
As for today's anniversary, 28 years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its mission, killing American teacher Christa McAuliffe and six others: Gregory Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee. Ronald McNair, Michael Smith, and Ellison Onizuka. The seven are memorialized on a monument at Arlington National Cemetery. I remember watching the launch of the Challenger (very few people still were, as the shuttle launches had become very routine) and realizing something very bad had happened, by the way the reporters on TV were talking. As far as shuttle movies go, one of the better ones is Armageddon, which I also spotted in the TV listings the other day.
Space travel has its risks - we should always remember those who gave all so we could expand beyond our terrestrial borders to see what is out there. Ronald Reagan's speech the evening following the Challenger disaster (when he was supposed to have delivered the State of the Union - something President Obama will do later this evening) was extraordinarily moving.