Today in history, greetings, and social banter here. (More)

Twenty-five years ago today, I was sitting in astrophysics class as the professor laid out her lecture notes. A student in the back of the lecture hall held up a portable radio and said, “Hey cool, the space shuttle is about to take off!”

“One of my former students is on this mission,” our professor said, beaming with pride. “Let’s go watch the launch.”

We filed out to the front of the science building and looked to the east and waited.

“Liftoff,” the student with the portable radio announced.

A few seconds later we saw the white plume climb over the horizon. Most of us had watched several shuttle launches. Even from 100 miles away, you can see it clearly as the shuttle climbs into the sky. Except this time, the shuttle didn’t keep climbing. This time, the top of the plume burst open. Twin trails ran off in different directions.

“Oh my god,” the student with the radio said.

She didn’t have to finish. We could see what had happened. We turned to our professor, whose face was now as white as the cloud on the eastern horizon.

“I … I can’t,” she stammered, her chin quivering. “I … class dismissed.”

Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik died in the Challenger explosion, today in 1986.

None was my professor’s former student. He had been bumped to a later mission.

Good morning! ::hugggggs::