Twenty-eight years ago eyes across the country were glued to the television to watch the launch of the Challenger space shuttle. It would be followed by a disaster that deeply affected all who watched.
"It was a day we went from our highest joy to our lowest sorrow,” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Dick Scobee, the commander of the Challenger crew. "Jan. 28 in 1986 was a cold day just like it is in San Antonio now."
As she recalled, excitement filled the air that day.
"It was an exciting mission because there was a teacher on board; exciting for me, because my husband was the commander."
That jubilation quickly turned to shock as the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated in mid-air.
"Numbing disbelief,” said Rodgers, describing the moment. “There's no way anyone expected anything like that."
It is a day the accomplished speaker, teacher and native San Antonian has described many times. On Tuesday, the anniversary of the disaster, she shared the story again, this time with a crowd inside the soon-to-be-finished Challenger Center on San Antonio College’s campus.
The Challenger Center, set to be finished this fall, is the educational, interactive site and vision of Rodgers. Combined with the Scobee Planetarium, it is expected to be a learning experience in science and math. Rodgers has opened more than 40 Challenger Centers across the United States and the world, however, San Antonio’s location is expected to be most impressive of them all.
"San Antonio’s, at San Antonio College, will be the shining star of the entire network of 45 Challenger Centers,” said Rodgers.
The center will boast, among other things, a one-of-a-kind, next-generation simulator in which kids will be able to go on a mission to the moon. It will also keep the legacy of the Challenger crew alive.