I just watched a show on the History channel called "Beyond the Moon: Failure Is Not An Option" depicting US space flights from the goal-oriented Kennedy presidency through today.
For some reason, the Challenger explosion (January 28, 1986) has always struck a chord with me and made me extremely emotionally deflated (I usually cry when I watch the footage as I think morbidly about how the crew members were dying inside the craft as cameras captured it.) I wasn't even alive when it happened. I don't know much about NASA or space missions. I don't particularly understand the depth of the malfunction that occurred..but it gives me a feeling similar to that which I felt as I watched the twin towers catch fire and crumble on September 11, 2001 as I sat in my science class during my second week of high school.
While watching this show, I learned of another disaster that took place recently and in my lifetime - 2003 - which I honestly and shamefully have absolutely no memory or knowledge of - that being the space shuttle Columbia explosion upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after a 16 day flight. It happened on February 1, 2003.
Watching these videos gives me an incredibly eerie feeling and makes me feel very small. I am saddened as I see the reality of the explosions and feel baffled - innocently and naively - that people can actually leave the Earth and go into space.