Yesterday's featured article
The Space Shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) (born: 1983; died: 1986) was the largest government fireworks show ever put on, not even coinciding with Independence Day but serving as an early commemoration of Presidents Day (now "Martin Luther King's Birthday," which was not yet celebrated nationwide).
The Challenger project shows that — despite recent American history in which U.S. Presidents brazenly sacrifice military and diplomatic personnel for the sake of a safe re-election, a "theme" for a Presidency, or an inspiring media event — the tendency to treat people as expendable props went all the way back to Ronald Reagan and was not confined to defending Marines in Lebanon by sentries with unloaded weapons.
The January 28, 1986 launch of OV-099 (which had a number of its own: STS-51-L) was no ordinary space launch. For one thing, a schoolteacher
was going to be on board. For another thing, President Ronald Reagan
was going to telephone
the astronauts with a greeting. Reagan would make carefully scripted remarks demonstrating his commitment to Public Education despite slashing funds because of that silly "It's not in the Constitution
" preoccupation of his. The launch was a perfect example of what Americans would now call Homeland Security
. It had to go forward despite pesky obstacles, such as the fact that the bitter cold temperature on January 28 would normally call for the launch to be aborted. (more...)