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The Challenger Disaster: 20 Years Later

Saturday, January 28, marks 20 years since the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Challenger flight 51L exploded 73 seconds after its long-awaited takeoff, killing all seven aboard including Christa McAuliffe, who was to be the first teacher in space. FNC wants to know:

Where were you when you heard about or saw the Challenger disaster?

E-mail us at speakout@foxnews.com and share your thoughts.

Here's what FOX Fans are saying:

"I was a speech therapist at a rural school. I was in a little closet that I used as a classroom. I heard the announcement as breaking news through the walls. One of the custodians was listening to a radio. No one else at school had even heard about the explosion. I immediately ran to the custodian's closet and drew the attention of the rest of the school to the tragedy. I had the names of those seven people swimming through my mind morning, noon, and night for about three months." — Judy

"I was at work, just one day after finding out I was pregnant with my first child. The excitement and thrill of my news immediately took a back seat to this tragedy, and I will never forget how the nation mourned the loss of those astronauts. Ronald Reagan gave a most inspirational speech that night, ending with a line about them 'slipping the bonds of earth to touch the face of God.' Even today, those words still touch me deeply." — Shaunna (Cincinnati, OH)

"My husband and I were on a cruise and were on the island of St Thomas when a couple who recognized us from being on the same ship told us about the disaster. At that point, I felt extremely depressed and even guilty that we were vacationing on a tropical island when the families of these heroes were suffering." — Darlene

"I was at work in the operating room. It was the one year anniversary of the loss of our premature son and I was feeling down that day. A co-worker entered the room with the unbelievable news. There was an immediate scramble for the few radios we had in the OR suite. Later that day I forgot about my own grief and watched in horror the hours of coverage of this awful event. To this day I remember the names of each of the astronauts and, of course, Christa McAuliffe. The look of confusion and pain on the faces of her parents and sister are etched in my mind." — Lynne (Woodstock, GA)

"I remember watching the space shuttle take off before and there was always such excitement involved. We would watch in amazement as this ship took off. This time was no different for my friends and me. We were in the fifth grade in Coleman, Wisconsin and it was library time for my class. The librarian had wheeled out the television and we all stood around in wonderment as it took off. We all thought it was so neat that a teacher was going into space. We were so excited as it left the ground and was headed for outer space. And then it happened. So quickly, it just exploded. My friends and I just stood there in shock thinking it had to be some kind of a joke -- but who would pull a joke like that? They showed the footage over and over again, and I remember coming home and watching it with my little sister and mom, thinking maybe if I watched it enough the outcome would change. It is amazing how there are those moments in your life when things happen that you will never forget." — Kimberly (Green Valley, AZ)

"I was a speech therapist at a rural school. I was in a little closet that I used as a classroom. I heard the announcement as breaking news through the walls. One of the custodians was listening to a radio. No one else at school had even heard about the explosion. I immediately ran to the custodian's closet and drew the attention of the rest of the school to the tragedy. I had the names of those seven people swimming through my mind morning, noon, and night for about three months." — Judy

"I was at work, just one day after finding out I was pregnant with my first child. The excitement and thrill of my news immediately took a back seat to this tragedy, and I will never forget how the nation mourned the loss of those astronauts. Ronald Reagan gave a most inspirational speech that night, ending with a line about them 'slipping the bonds of earth to touch the face of God.' Even today, those words still touch me deeply." — Shaunna (Cincinnati, OH)

"My husband and I were on a cruise and were on the island of St Thomas when a couple who recognized us from being on the same ship told us about the disaster. At that point, I felt extremely depressed and even guilty that we were vacationing on a tropical island when the families of these heroes were suffering." — Darlene

"I was at work in the operating room. It was the one year anniversary of the loss of our premature son and I was feeling down that day. A co-worker entered the room with the unbelievable news. There was an immediate scramble for the few radios we had in the OR suite. Later that day I forgot about my own grief and watched in horror the hours of coverage of this awful event. To this day I remember the names of each of the astronauts and, of course, Christa McAuliffe. The look of confusion and pain on the faces of her parents and sister are etched in my mind." — Lynne (Woodstock, GA)

"I remember watching the space shuttle take off before and there was always such excitement involved. We would watch in amazement as this ship took off. This time was no different for my friends and me. We were in the fifth grade in Coleman, Wisconsin and it was library time for my class. The librarian had wheeled out the television and we all stood around in wonderment as it took off. We all thought it was so neat that a teacher was going into space. We were so excited as it left the ground and was headed for outer space. And then it happened. So quickly, it just exploded. My friends and I just stood there in shock thinking it had to be some kind of a joke — but who would pull a joke like that? They showed the footage over and over again, and I remember coming home and watching it with my little sister and mom, thinking maybe if I watched it enough the outcome would change. It is amazing how there are those moments in your life when things happen that you will never forget." — Kimberly (Green Valley, AZ)

"I was in an airplane flying to Washington, D.C. when the pilot made the announcement that the Challenger had exploded. I'll never forget that awful moment. I also know that space flight is a really risky business and these things are bound to happen. We learn from mistakes, and some are more tragic then others." — Ed (Shreveport,LA)

"I was sitting in my home office in Montana and saw it on TV. I couldn't believe what was happening. How sad it was." — Shirley

"I remember being in my class at school in Lewisville, Texas. I was 10 years old. We had been studying the space program and were very excited that we would all watch it on TV in our classrooms. It was very significant in our school since it was going to be the first teacher in space. We were gathered around the television when the unthinkable happened. I remember people crying and teachers trying to explain what had happened in a delicate manner. Because we were young, we knew, but didn't really understand." — Renee

"I was 15 years old the day of the Challenger disaster. We were celebrating my younger brother's birthday that day and we were home from school because of a severe snowstorm. I still remember my heart sinking to my feet and to this day, I can still see the solid rocket boosters, still lit and flying aimlessly in different directions." — Ray (Lubbock, TX)

"I know it's been 20 years since the disaster, but it seems like yesterday. I was sitting in my living room watching it on TV when it launched. And, I was in tears when it exploded. I kept thinking about all the wives, husbands, moms, dads and family of all those people left behind. I remember praying for their families. It was such a very sad time in the history of this country and the space program." — Pat

"My wife and I were driving to Pensacola that morning. I thought about the launch and felt a shiver go up my spine. I turned on the radio and the shuttle had just exploded. It was a very strange feeling. Later, when I was stationed at the Pentagon, one of my fellow staff officers was the space policy guru. He was intimately involved in the post-disaster safety investigation and there are many things the public will never know about the accident. That aspect (booster O-rings) of shuttle mission safety was solved, but obviously not wing damage." — Rip (Ft. Walton Beach, FL)

"I was in elementary school at the time and will never forget the pictures on TV and in newspapers. I happened to live on Davis Monthan Air Force base when the shuttle stopped in for a refuel before going on to Florida. We actually got to get out of class and go to the flight line to see it. I was amazed by how small it looked on the back of the plane carrying it. One of my teachers was a finalist and almost went up. The Challenger is a personal memory I could never forget." — Michelle (Denison, MI)

"I remember walking past the tool room when I was a super telephoneman working for now-deceased "FORD AEROSPACE". It was a shocker when the tool room man turned his radio up with KGO, and the story we didn't expect came true. We all wondered where this would lead NASA's space programs after we saw the first American civilian to access space. I'd still take a seat in the shuttle if it were offered." — John (SD)

"I was six years old when the Challenger exploded. I was in church at my parochial school when they announced what had happened. I didn't know exactly what that meant back then, but now when I see the footage, I cry and hope that, somehow, the families of those on the Challenger have had some sort of closure. My heart goes out to them." — Katie (Nashville, TN)

"I was in elementary school in music class. Two of our classmates had stayed with our classroom teacher to watch the liftoff and one came running into music class saying, “the space shuttle with the teacher just exploded!” As a nine-year-old, I started watching the news and reading the newspaper faithfully every day after that event. Tom Brokaw explained things so even a person of my age could have an understanding of what was happening. I could not get enough information about our space program and this tragic event. I compiled two scrapbooks." — Kim (Omaha, NE)

"I was giving my son his juice and we were watching the TV At two, when he saw me cry; he knew something had happened. He will soon be 22 years old, and he remembers. His goal growing up was to be an astronaut. There can be no greater program that the United States can invest in." — Barbara (Minerva, OH)

"I was at work, when a co-worker came through the office and announced that the shuttle had exploded. It was simply too awful to believe, and it did not sink in for several seconds. The entire office was stunned and speechless. I can't believe that was 20 years ago — it seems like yesterday." — Fran

"I was a superintendent of schools at the time. Several of us administrators and teachers were watching with great anticipation, simply because Christa McAuliffe was aboard. The memory of watching the Challenger explode is still vividly etched in my mind. None of us could believe what we saw. (Much the same as when I was a classroom teacher with the radio on in my classroom when Walter Cronkite announced President Kennedy was dead. Another moment I shall never forget!!)" — Gene (Stoddard, WI)

"I was at home in Grez-sur-Loing, France. My dear Yank husband was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. I saw that awful explosion on TV and called my husband to come into the living room. I don't remember the exact chronology, but it was the era of the Reagan-Gorbachev garden stroll in Geneva, the Evan Galbraith campaign against the Russian pipeline to western Europe, testing of the French rocket Ariane in French Guyana, the Mitterrand-Chirac prohibition of U.S. flights over France to bomb Libya — in short, a time of little love lost between France and the U.S. That night, though, there was one little broken-hearted Yank outpost in the backwoods of France." — Ginny (France)

"I was stationed in Belgium and my husband had just brought me and our newborn daughter home. We were setting up the crib and watching Armed Forces TV when the disaster was broadcast. It was a very strange experience — we were celebrating life, while at the same time praying for the families of the Challenger crew." — Jennifer

"I was one of about 20 students in Mr. Brown’s ninth grade government class and we got the special present of having a TV wheeled into our classroom so we could watch the shuttle take off. I can still remember how loud the sudden silence was when we saw it happen, then the girls who started to cry — and even some of us boys, too." — Jason (Pocatello, ID)

"I was in fourth grade and we watched the takeoff, since my teacher was one of the 10 finalists. I remember sitting next to him and seeing the Challenger explode. We were all silent until our teacher started to cry, then the whole class followed suit. The rest of the day was spent talking about it." — Erin (Wauwatosa, WI)