Recently, a longtime friend and her family exchanged life in the city for a quieter existence south near the coast, Friendswood to be exact. As a native Houstonian, I am aware of the area, passing by every time I head to the beach. After visiting my friend and her happy family a few times, I realized how much of the surrounding area remains untouched as mostly native bayou and marsh. This is the Houston, I remember growing up as a kid.
Clear Creek runs through the park creating natural wetlands.
My friend Dianne is also new to the coastal area and was excited to inform me of a 300-acre park with elevated boardwalk trails through the trees and over the water. I was excited to visit. My mom and I left on a weekday morning heading south through traffic to arrive before the heat of the midday sun. Rains fell earlier in the week. A damp coolness permeated the trail. The natural world along the bayou was waking up.
Challenger 7 Park is located off NASA Rd 1 in Webster, Texas near Clear Lake where NASA resides. Open daily in winter from 7 am to 7 pm and in summer until 9 pm. The park has pavillions for picnics and barbecues, a boat dock, fishing ponds, a nature center, art installations, and 1.4 miles of elevated trails. The trails are accessible by all activity levels. We enjoyed walking the boardwalk as the rising sunlight danced in the moss covered trees.
The park commemorates the Challenger 7 mission and is a memorial to the loss of 7 astronauts. Today is the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. Six astronauts and 1 civilian teacher, Christa McAuliffe, were aboard the mission. After visiting the park this past autumn, I investigated further into the failed mission. Once I read the official NASA report I asked several people what happened and everyone's explanation was different. The following is the NASA Report of the findings. (Which is actually hard to find as so many other news agencies state their views/opinions of the report.) The first link is in regard to the explosion and the second is in regard to how the astronauts might have died aboard the shuttle. http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/explode.html http://history.nasa.gov/kerwin.html Interestingly, TISP- The Teachers in Space Project, began in 1984. President Ronald Reagan announced the program for educators as a way to inspire teachers and students in mathematics and sciences for space exploration. The project would carry teachers into space to return and share the experience in their classrooms. Christa McAuliffe was the first teacher chosen and her backup was Barbara Morgan. Twelve years later, Barbara Morgan became the first teacher in space aboard the Endeavor.
"Challenger flight 51-l crew" by NASA - NASA Human Space Flight Gallery (image link). Licensed under Public Domain via Commons[/caption] STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.
If you live in the Houston Area or are visiting, take a half day trip south to visit Challenger 7 Park and explore the enchantment of the natural native wetlands that flow through the park while also honoring the 7 American astronauts aboard the Challenger Shuttle.
Challenger 7 Memorial