When the space shuttle Challenger blasted off on its final, ill-fated mission on this day 32 years ago, a Central Washington man was in command.
Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, who was born in Cle Elum, was last heard acknowledging the order to bring the shuttle’s engines up to full throttle: “Roger, go with full throttle up.”
Three seconds later, the shuttle’s main fuel tank exploded, killing Scobee and his six crewmates, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, as millions of people watched on live television, including countless school children.
Scobee, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, was born May 19, 1939, in Cle Elum. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1957 after graduating from Auburn High School.
In the Air Force, Scobee was initially trained as a mechanic, but he didn’t want to just fix airplanes. He wanted to fly them.
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