Revisiting History: The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Part I – The Event Itself

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

On the morning of January 28, 1986, I received a call from my son who informed me that Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded just after lift-off killing all seven astronauts aboard. This tragic event took place in full view of their friends, co-workers and families. My son asked me to join him for healing on the disaster and the people involved, and to aid the astronauts on their unexpected spiritual journey. I in turn called my daughter and other members of my healing circle to wrap the situation and the people in spiritual healing. Then, like so many others, I turned on television to witness history as it unfolded. I am sure my first thoughts were absolute shock, but the healer and astrologer in me came forward and did what had to be done. That night my weekly intermediate astrology students got an unexpected lesson in the living astrology of the shuttle disaster. A live experience is always the best example from which to teach. What I taught that night was the astrology of the moment, the explosion itself. But there will always be so much more to the story once you can access the backup information to the event. To begin…

The liftoff of Space Shuttle Challenger was (officially) at 11:38:00.678 AM, January 28, 1986 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The longitude and latitude of the space center at that time was given as 80 W 36, 28 N 24. If you are a researcher, you may find several longitude and latitude coordinates available because the space center is quite large with many launch sites. The first flicker that indicated trouble was at 11:38:57.788. The hydrogen leak itself was 11:39.04:660. The explosion was at 11:39:13.237 and the loss of the downlink (communication) was 11:39:15. From lift-off to explosion was 1 minute 13 seconds. The midheaven had moved 17 minutes and the ascendant had moved 23 minutes.

Following is my initial article from that period of time. The launch of the space shuttle Challenger and its subsequent explosion 1’12” [time given initially, later changed to 1’13”] into the launch touched off a controversy that still rages. The subsequent investigation by the U.S. government uncovered many questionable and potentially disastrous practices. Even though there has been a gradual release of information over the years, with this type of event the whole truth may never be known. We are definitely in the realm of governmental security, passing the buck or scapegoating, political and economic survival (for the program as well as individually) and face-saving, to mention a few possibilities.

Horrified onlookers, both at the site and through television, had their lives touched in an incredibly painful way. Some of those onlookers were astrologers, who probably dove for their ephemerides, charts or computers desperately seeking the “why”. I was busy that day and had not tuned into the actual launch. Just what could we as astrologers have done had we foreseen the tragedy? We have no legitimate outlet for such realizations. Any information we would have provided would have been branded as doomsday rhetoric or a crank call. The best we could do in this situation is to seek to understand it from the perspective of hindsight, hoping to learn and apply what we have learned at some future point. In other words, research.

I was amazed at how clearly the disaster was reflected in the chart once we knew what the event was. Using the basic chart, 10 physical bodies and standard aspects, plus the nodes, Part of Fortune, Vertex and Dark Moon Lilith gave me so much information that I did not find it necessary to get into the more speculative regions of astrology. Yes, I do know that Dark Moon Lilith is considered speculative. However, I have done many years of work with her and she works just fine to my satisfaction! I did my usual research into the disaster, even wrote a local astrology column for the general public, and put the information with my research (I am a Scorpio) into the current spate of air disasters. We will explore the general chart information in this article.

Around this same time, I gpt a call from an astrologer/friend stating that he had received his first issue of a newspaper published by a British astrological association. One of the articles made mention of degree symbology, particularly the definitions of Charubel, and gave a few applications to the Challenger launch chart. Since I happened to have that particular book, I looked up all the degree meanings for Challenger. Do you all know what having your mind blown feels like? Well, that is what occurred when I glanced at the Challenger launch degrees… and what I found will be offered in part 2 of this article.

The actual launch and explosion charts (2) were inserted earlier in this article. In addition, the maiden flight of Challenger STS-6 is provided: April 4, 1983, 1:30 PM EST, Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the natal chart for Challenger. Since the explosion took place a scant 3 years after the maiden flight, the progressed maiden flight chart has made slight progress. I make great use of diurnal charts in exploring such research and events. Simply put the natal information is repeated for the new chart and the day of the event is substituted for the natal birth date. Date is the only change that is made to produce the diurnal. Diurnals are transit positions that apply specifically to the selected natal chart. Personally, I cast a three-chart overlay by hand with the diurnal as the central (inside) layer, the natal positions for the middle layer and the progressions for the outer layer. I prefer seeing the patterns circular but the hand-casting method did not copy well for the purposes of this article. Instead I have placed all the positions calculated on a single spreadsheet because it provides fast and easy aspecting between multiple charts. Only the hard aspects between the charts have been listed. I believe the existing soft aspects show the more benign activations such as the fame, excitement, hero worship, etc. activities. Color-coding is used to identify the various related chart positions by 10˚ increments, but the colors themselves were randomly selected. One caveat: this method of listing neglects out of sign aspects and is so noted on the spreadsheet. They are not difficult to identify.

Because the Challenger disaster was a national event that impacted our country specifically, I also looked at the USA Virgo rising chart (my personal preference) along with its progressions and event diurnal.  Yes, the impact was an international event, but it had a specific USA impact. USA Progressed and diurnal information is also provided on the Challenger spreadsheet and the aspects generated between all the charts.

I cannot delineate each and every aspect in this article – there are just too many. I have chosen three areas to briefly explore but the hard aspects are listed on the spreadsheet. What stands out for me is that the Midheavens for the launch/explosion charts tie directly in to the USA natal Mercury/Pluto opposition as well as the maiden flight natal Mercury/Pluto square. The Midheaven is a function of time, the planetary positions are cast in concrete in the natal charts.

The next standout is the amazing number of positions in 0 to 10 fixed, tying all the charts together through multiple hard aspects. When you can connect three sets of stand-alone charts widely diverse in time (1776, 1983, 1986) by natal, progressed and transit (diurnal) you can definitely see the inter-relationship between these charts. Note that the very karmic or destiny-oriented USA Node is a part of this multiple aspect pattern.

The Moon of the launch/explosion is the degree of the USA Virgo rising ascendant and the maiden flight Jupiter and Uranus and which also ties by hard aspect to the USA midheaven/Uranus. The launch/explosion Part of Fortune unfortunately identifies as the Part of Misfortune through this mix of aspects across several charts.

This is the first article in a series of articles on both the Challenger disaster and other historical events. Part II will be Degree Symbology. Part III will correlate the shuttle launch/explosion with the charts of the seven astronauts who were aboard and entered the realm of history and heroes at their loss.


Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

(In compliance with Executive Order 12546 of February 3, 1986)

“Jan 28 2011 is the 25th anniversary of this disaster (1986.) I wanted to do this because I so admire the courage of our astronauts.”

First published on the All Things Healing website Dec 2010, republished with slight editing.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.