Remembering Challenger

John Boehner

“They wheeled a TV into the classroom so we could watch it live. Our teachers were excited because there was a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, on the crew. We watched the whole thing live. I will never forget that.”
– Speaker Paul Ryan

Every American knows where they were when the space shuttle Challenger fell on January 28, 1986 – 30 years ago today. It remains etched in the nation’s memory.

Speaker Ryan was one of many students who tuned in that day to watch Christa McAuliffe from Concord, New Hampshire, who was chosen from 11,000 teachers to be the first teacher to go to space.

Millions of Americans huddled around television sets to witness in real time this feat of American space exploration. The country will never forget the moment 73 seconds after launch when the Challenger burst into flames. All seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, perished.

The shuttle program was halted as the Rogers Commission investigated the failings, both human and mechanical, that led to this tragedy. The House held many hearings to investigate and released its own report to help prevent such a calamity from occurring again.

Despite this tragedy, the space shuttle Discovery successfully went up into space just three years later, restoring America’s confidence in our ability to explore the final frontier. The success of America’s space program in the years that followed was a symbol both of America’s strength and our tireless pursuit of excellence. It strengthened America’s resolve in the Cold War. 

Thirty years later, we are still committed to American leadership in space. Thanks to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s SPACE Act, now law, there will be more private sector investment in the space industry, more stable and predictable regulatory conditions, and better safety technology.

Just as it was on this day in all those classrooms, Americans have a deep-rooted passion for exploration, a passion that gives honor to the crew of the Challenger.

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