"Final Flight"
by Pete Jorgensen
Summer 1986

There she is
sitting on the pad
Technology's achievement
best we've ever had
Armchair dreamers
watch TV's
Challenger awaiting
flashing on their screens

"Count commencing, all is go
systems nominal"
"Roger ground control
we're looking up
and feeling good"
T minus ten
we're getting close
prepare to fly
You'll soon be weightless
as you're there above the sky

At Cocoa Beach the children watching
wait to see their teacher fly
Steam rise across the water
from the Shuttle to the sky

Blind technicians
watch carefully
Trusting in
Flight controller
pacing to the sound
Data input
shouting all around

Five seconds
ignition sequence start on SRB's
Three, two, one, the candle's lit!
lift off gracefully
Rise and rotate, power peak
104 percent
"Challenger, throttle back"
the big push isn't yet

You trained so long
to take this ride
Acceleration pressing you inside
Pressure building, the flaming roar
Hang on Christa just a little more

Sixty seconds takes you high
Earth is far below
Space is beckoning outside
stars begin to glow
The flame you ride
now turns on you
attacking all you are
Sit defenseless to the end
to die a flaming star

In the sky
a clouded trail erupts in flame
Flight control
keeps reading numbers just the same
Looking up
a nation stops, a disbelieving pause
SRB's sketching out
a ghostly dragon's claws

Flame of death
rain of ash
Seven gone where once they flew
Life is over
will they pass
to Eternity?

© 2011 Peter Jorgensen BMI

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