Roger Wood, Jerry Little and Jim Van Dongen Reported Challenger Tragedy Together

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NASA Photo

The NASA family lost seven of its own on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed, causing the Shuttle Challenger to break apart just 73 seconds after launch. In this photo from Jan. 9, 1986, the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.

State Sen. Jerry Little

State Sen. Jerry Little, R-Weare

Jim Van Dongen

Jim Van Dongen

Roger Wood

Roger Wood

Jan. 28, 1986 was a relatively warm day in New England with temperatures generally in the 40s.

But at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center read 28 degrees at 6 a.m.  That was when Roger Wood and his radio and print counterparts from New Hampshire arrived expecting to witness the historic launch of Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher in space aboard the space Shuttle Challenger.

Hours later, icicles were still clinging to the bottom of the shuttle’s launch pad when the countdown went to zero.  Thirty years later, Roger talks with two of his radio colleagues that day,  Jim Van Dongen,  and Jerry Little, who is now a state senator.


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