Yankee Classic: Christa Mcauliffe's Shadow
When I last talked to her 11 days ago, Christa was in quarantine in Houston and [her son] Scott was watching a Celtics game in their family room at home. She had called to say goodnight to the children and asked to say hello to me before she hung up. She was proud she had won a beer from Mission Commander Scobee when she bet on the Patriots against the Los Angeles Raiders a week earlier. And she was excited about her space flight.
“Have fun,” I told her.
“I will, ” she said.
As Hohler grew closer to Christa, his respect for her grew, too. “I knew what NASA’S motives were,” he said. “I knew they were selling the space program, and this was a great way to do it. I don’t think they could have found a better person to capture the spirit and win people over. But I never looked on her as a pawn. She went into this willingly and knew all along what she was doing. She knew the risks. She knew that she could die up there. She knew that from the beginning.”
The full moon spattered silver on the choppy waters of the Atlantic when Christa and the crew were awakened at 6:20 A.M. yesterday. The idle orbiter glittered like a space-age steeple on the skyline. A half hour later, the day dawned a pearly white. “Christa, hey, Christa!” photographers cried as she left for the launch pad at 7:50.
“We’re going to go off today, “she said, smiling, showing no trace of the frustration she displayed the day before when she climbed out of the shuttle after waiting six hours for a flight that never flew.
When she reached the sterile room that leads to the shuttle, a technician gave her a shiny Red Delicious apple. She joked with astronaut Judy Resnik for a while, shook hands with the ground crew, and crawled on board.
“Good morning, Christa,” said a controller, testing her headset at 8:35 A.M. “Have a good day.”
“Good morning,” she said. “You too.”
“They were her last public words.