Challenger Astronauts Honored on 20 Year Anniversary

1-28-06 - KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) The widow of a Challenger astronaut spoke to the hundreds of people who gathered today at the Kennedy Space Center for a ceremony to honor the crew of the ill-fated shuttle.

It's been 20 years since the Challenger blew apart 73 seconds after its launch.

June Scobee Rodgers, whose husband Dick Scobee was the shuttle's commander, recalled waiting for the launch that chilly morning with other family members.

She says their lives were shattered, but the families persevered. As Rodgers put it, "I believe those parents launched aboard Challenger would be proud of their children."

Rodgers, along with NASA associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier, laid a wreath at the base of a granite memorial.

The disaster was blamed on a poorly designed gasket on a rocket booster which hardened in cold weather. Some engineers for the contractor protested launching when the temperature was 36 degrees, but they were overruled by NASA managers.