(NOTE: The following is a fictionalized account of the 15 days in January 1986 leading up to the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster. The character’s account is fictional; however, the details of weather and Space Shuttle events are based on known historical facts.)
Tuesday, January 14, 1986
High Temp: 63° F Low Temp: 37° F
At least we have Columbia in the air. These delays are frustrating. Columbia was supposed to be launched on December 18th and since then launch attempts on December 19th, twice on January 6th, and January 7th, 9th, and 10th were all scrubbed for one reason or another. Finally, we got them off Sunday. At least the launch went well, but we have Challenger waiting in the wings.
Columbia is supposed to come back on this Friday, the 17th, but that’s going to push back the launch of the Challenger. There’s talk of bringing back Columbia early so we can move up the Challenger launch. Hopefully, we’ll get the official word tomorrow.
Charlie Bolden is the pilot on the Columbia on this flight. This is his first flight. Coincidentally, he’s from Columbia, South Carolina. He was the first guy we put in the slidewire basket to test the launch tower escape system. We didn’t kill him, which is at least on measure that it must work.
We’ve also got a politician on board the Columbia. Representative Bill Nelson is one of the payload specialists. God I hope nothing goes wrong on this flight. That would put a quick end to the program. For all my complaining I have to say it’s pretty exciting to be part of the launch pad team right now. There’s a lot of pressure, but we’re doing something no one else in the world can do and I wouldn’t trade my job to anyone.
It was chilly this morning. It felt like we were in Denver. I didn’t take my jacket off until late this afternoon. Tomorrow should be warmer and maybe we can get back to more normal temperatures.