The Challenger Disaster, 1986

Christa McAuliffe didn’t die
in the white plumes we saw on TV,
73 seconds after take-off.

Her death came
in the 2 minutes, 45 seconds
before the capsule
carrying seven disappeared
beneath the waves.

Only body parts were recovered,
no proof of how long Christa
knew the children watching the launch
witnessed a history no one expected.

Every January, I recall
the weeks of celebrating Christa,
the teacher who would beam
lessons from space. How classrooms
all over the country prepared
for success, when a disaster
was waiting.

And I hope Christa had no regrets
in those 2 minutes, 45 seconds
for blasting off after her dreams
with the courage, I wish I had.

About the Poem

January 28, 2023 marks the 37th Anniversary of the Challenger Disaster.

About the Author

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including Topical Poetry, The Sunlight Press, Gyroscope Review, and One Art. Visit

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