This One’s for Jeremy

Since today is my son’s birthday, I’ll make today’s theme post about him.  When Jeremy was born, my hospital room number was 356.  At the time, Florida had only recently enlisted “Cash 3” in its lottery games.  I’ve never been one to play the lottery very often, but perhaps about once a year, I play for fun.  However, that day, I told my family we should play 356 on a Cash 3 that night.  (This was odd for me, because I’ve never been one to take the numbers given to me by any particular event, but rather I prefer to select them myself.)  No one listened to me, and of course I was in no position to go out and buy a ticket.  Well, you guessed it…  That was the number that won that night!  It was a $117 payout for a $1 ticket.

In 2003, when Jeremy was nine, we lived in Orlando.  Whenever a space shuttle would launch, if it was during work or school hours, his school would go outside to watch as it took off, and my co-workers and I would stand at the windows and watch.

On January 16, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched.  At the time, I was watching out my office window, and Jeremy was with his class out on the field.  A short time later, Jeremy’s third grade teacher called me and asked me to come pick him up.  (This was not unusual, because with his Asperger’s Syndrome, he frequently disrupted his class.)  She said that ever since the shuttle took off, Jeremy started telling everyone that would listen that the shuttle was, “Not ever going to come back to earth,” and that several children in his class were quite upset by his repeating this.  At the time, neither his teacher or I (or Jeremy) had watched the news where it was reported that less than two minutes after the shuttle took off, a large piece of it broke off.

For the next several days, Jeremy was like a broken record as he looked into the sky and emotionlessly said, “That shuttle’s never coming back.”   (With Asperger’s Syndrome, he has little to no empathy and had no clue why he was being offensive or inappropriate.)  He kept saying it so often that his teacher phoned me several more times to try to make him stop.

Well, of course you already know the rest.  On February 1, 2003, the shuttle blew up upon reentry to the atmosphere!  Upon hearing the news, Jeremy simply said, “I knew it,” and he never spoke of it again.

Talk to me:  Do you remember the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster?  What space shuttle event do you remember most, and where were you when it occurred?  If a kid in your third grade class made such a bold prediction, would it have frightened you?

20 thoughts on “This One’s for Jeremy

  1. I remember Columbia well because I was on-line, I knew it was coming back, and I brought up CNN to check the status. The first thing I saw was a “Breaking News” that said, “NASA says they have lost telemetry from Columbia.” Right away I knew what had happened. I went downstairs, turned on CNN, and they were just breaking in with pictures of the shuttle breaking up.

    I was also home when Challenger broke up. I’d just turned on the TV to see if there was anything about the launch (I knew they weren’t televising the lift-off), and I instantly caught all the breaking news. I got calls from friends throughout the day asking about what happened, because I was considered something of an “expert” on space. What can I say?

    I also remember Apollo 1, Apollo 13, and Soyuz 11. I remember when Vladimir Komarov died aboard Soyuz 1. I remember all these things.

    I should point out that Columbia didn’t “blow up”; neither did Challenger. Both came apart due to atmospheric stresses. When the left wing was ripped off Columbia, the shuttle went into a tumble and broke up; there wasn’t an explosion. Same thing with Challenger: the SRB burned through the strut connecting it to the external tank, then slammed up into the shuttle wing. This ripped through the wing which also caused a rupture in the external tank, which then caused the main body of the shuttle to twist and come apart. At the speed it was traveling, and at full thrust, the shuttle disintegrated in a couple of seconds. What looked like an explosion was actually the liquid hydrogen and nitrogen in the external tank turning to a foam-like state because it was no longer at 300 degrees below zero, and it was transitioning from liquid to foam to vapor.

    • That’s true….I misused “blew up.” 🙂 I just remember Columbia and Challenger. I think space exploration is so interesting and it made me so mad when the U.S. stopped sending shuttles because of the cost. I have a friend who works at NASA and of course they still do a lot of work, but they all miss the shuttles there. 🙂

      • The system was a case where they allowed the Air Force to begin dictating how they wanted the system to run, and it drove up the cost tremendously, while at the same time it put NASA in the position of having a delivery system that wasn’t really delivering anything. It could have been a great system IF it had been part of a larger project, which is what it would have been if we’d went ahead with Apollo Applications. That’s really want I wanted to see.

      • As you probably know from my blogs, I’m a huge fan of classic TV, and when it happened, it just made me think of all the kids in the 50s and 60s TV shows that wore astronaut gear and made me sad that future kids won’t be playing astronaut like that again.

      • Or if they do they’ll wear something completely different. The newest design I’ve seen for a space suit would look a lot like the silver suit worn on “Lost in Space,” which would hug your body and keep the air trapped inside your body. Since they wouldn’t have to pressurize the suit, it’ll be flexible and non-confining.

  2. Fascinating post young Rachel…annoyingly I remember being in a pub when the news of the shuttle tragedy came through. A bloke up the bar came out with an instant sick joke (went viral by word of mouth back in the day) that was – notwithstanding the genuine guilt I felt laughing – very funny although plainly good manners and ethics prevent me from repeating it here!

      • Even worse when the joke is actually funny (maybe witty would be a better word). I think we Brits are particularly guilty of this sort of debatable humour!

      • LOL! Well, actually, when the joke’s about a dead person you know, that’s different because you know if they had a sense of humor. But I see stuff on the internet all the time about strangers that are in the news and so many people think it’s funny, but I just think it’s sad.

  3. I remember the day Columbia blew up. We were having an early birthday celebration for my Mom (b’day is Feb.4) and my brother kept getting calls from press people asking for phone numbers for some of the retired astronauts so they could get statements from them. Tony kept refusing, then saying “no comment” when they asked him for statements. Some birthday celebration. We had the dinner, the cake and the gifts, but our hearts just weren’t in it that year.

    And yes, if a third grade kid had predicted it, I would have been extremely frightened. I’ve had premonitions that came true, and out of body experiences, and they all scared me half to death, so it still scares me when others have these feelings also. Too many feelings of deja`vu for me. I just can’t get used to it when I see things I’ve never seen before, yet I know it so well.

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