More than thirty years ago, NASA launched seven crew members to space on the space shuttle Challenger, but they never got there.
Seventy-three seconds after lift-off, one of the shuttle’s fuel tanks failed, generating a rapid cascade of events that culminated with a fireball in the sky, eventually killing all the passengers on board.
While we all probably know this story, there’s another equally tragic account from Challenger engineer Bob Ebeling that strikes a chord with us for a different reason.
The night before the disaster, Ebeling, along with four other engineers, tried to halt the launch, according to an exclusive interview from NPR with Ebeling.
The engineers had been concerned because this mission would involve the coldest launch in history, and the shuttle’s rocket boosters — the two rockets on either side of a shuttle that fire upon lift off — weren’t designed to function properly under such extreme temperatures.
The night before the explosion, Ebeling said in the NPR interview, he’d told his wife: “It’s going to blow up.”
Thirty years later, he still suffers from guilt.
“I think that was one of the mistakes that God made,” Ebeling says softly during the interview. “He shouldn’t have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.'”