I Am Generation Space. As I sat on my grandmother’s bed, home sick from school, I was eleven years old and happy to at least be watching Challenger take flight on January 28, 1986. I had been following Judith Resnik and Christa McAuliffe during their training. Well, as much as I could before the internet was a thing at home. Challenger lifted off and then it happened. That moment will forever be with me. Something is not ok. Major Malfunction. They were able to make it, right? That plume that went to the side, it has to be them. With all of the hope an eleven-year-old could possess, I wanted them to be found safe. I watched John Zarella on CNN, tangled with typewriters and confusion, a voice I grew up with, hoping he would bring better news. There would not be better news, only footage of wreckage and a glove. That glove.
August 1987, my mother made a dream possible. She dropped me off in Huntsville, Alabama, for a week at Space Camp. It was an amazing week complete with a simulated shuttle mission where our group took best mission, earning us a silver Shuttle pin and my Wings. For a girl from Wisconsin, this was a pretty big thing and an honor to have been in the buildings that the very astronauts that inspired me had been.
Fast forward to 2016. Now a widow, my daughter and I moved to Titusville, Florid, for a much-needed change. The night we arrived was a ULA launch to the International Space Station. The perfect way to be greeted to our new home. We went to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that week and I knew this is where we belong. I turned a corner and there it was. Challenger.