May 032012

Everyone who saw the 1986 disaster of the space shuttle Challenger remembers the words from mission control: “Flight control is here looking very carefully at the situation, obviously a major malfunction.”

I was watching a newly surfaced home video of the explosion courtesy of The Huffington Post. (Well worth watching. In particular, notice just how cold it must have been that morning, as evidenced by the clothing people wore.) This led me to a link about Steve Nesbitt, the NASA communications officer who uttered those sad but memorable words.

By the time NASA was ready to fly shuttles again, Nesbitt was already promoted to a new position. But he asked his bosses to be the announcer for the next flight, because “the last one ended rather badly.” Thus he became the voice of NASA in September 1988, when Discovery flew.

Nesbitt retired last year and the shuttles are now heading to museums. But, I admit, the emotional impact of the failed launch of Challenger remains just as strong today as it was 26 years ago.

 Posted by at 9:04 am