In the News

Challenger: The Final Flight

September 16, 2020

A 2020 docuseries covering the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger incident. Available at Netflix.

An overview of the series from Associated Press is available here.


June Scobee Rodgers featured on All The Best Podcast

September 16, 2020

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers sat down for a conversation with Sam LeBlond.

Podcast & details available here.


News about Dr. June Scobee Rodgers

March 8, 2019

Celebrating CSU women on #IWD2019

In honor of International Women’s Day 2019, we’ll highlight a few very special ladies who have made their mark at Charleston Southern University and beyond.

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers ’71, widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, founded the Challenger Center for Space Science Education to continue the crew’s educational mission. She shared that CSU prepared her for the unthinkable.

She said, “I learned at CSU that it’s how you react to problems that carry you across to a shore of calm with the rewards of overcoming difficulty that result in learning how to solve problems and seek new opportunities.” That strength helped June lead the nation to overcome tremendous grief after the 1986 Challenger accident.

Read the full story here.


Pence promises missions to the moon and Mars during ceremony

February 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is honoring the nation’s fallen astronauts during a NASA day of remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorials at the cemetery honor those who perished when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986, and when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003. Pence recalled both events, saying that when the Columbia broke up, so did the hearts of the American people.

Pence tells NASA staff and family members of fallen astronauts that President Donald Trump’s administration is committed to the United States leading in space exploration.

Pence says the president has made it clear “we are going back to the moon, and once we’re back on the moon, the United States is going to Mars.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the full story here.



Barbara Bush – A Beloved Woman, Leader, and Friend

April 18, 2018

We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Former First Lady Barbara Bush. We’ve loved and admired her for decades and will never forget the profound impact she had on this country. Barbara saw me, and our nation, through some of the most difficult days and months following the Challenger accident. Her compassion and support was unending. She embraced the Challenger families and encouraged us to turn tragedy into triumph and create Challenger Center. Barbara Bush is a legend among women leaders around the world. She served our nation well as a feisty First Lady, a model wife and mother, and as a friend to millions. I am forever grateful to have been able to call her my friend. On behalf of the Challenger families and the Challenger Center organization, I send my heartfelt condolences to President Bush and the Bush family. We are eternally grateful to each of you for sharing your beloved Barbara with the world.

NASA’s Day of Remembrance

January 25, 2018

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of fallen Challenger Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee, spent NASA’s Day of Remembrance at the Challenger STEM Learning Center with other prominent women of Chattanooga. Dr. Scobee Rodgers, founding Chair of the Challenger Center, and other influential women from the area, including Sue Culpepper, Debbie McKee, Vicki Cherry, Cindy Sexton, Arline Mann, Lisa Frost, Ellen Heavilon, Jackie Mohney, Judy Spiegel, Sharon McKee, Carol Mutter, Sandra Longer, Gayanne Burns, Jennifer Patel, and Nancy Prebul set off to Mars at the STEM Learning Center on The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s campus on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Read the full story here.

30 years later, Challenger’s final voyage remembered

January 26, 2016

Thirty years after the space shuttle Challenger broke apart in the clear, cold sky high above Cape Canaveral, the commander’s widow no longer feels anger at NASA and the management missteps and schedule pressure that kept the orbiters flying despite a fatal flaw in their solid-fuel boosters. She tells CBS News she is at peace with history, her role in it, the heart-wrenching loss of her husband and his six crewmates and her connection with the countless people who will never forget America’s loss of innocence on the high frontier.

“I am able now to treat the event as history rather than avoiding the public scrutiny that overcame us during our private grieving,” said June Scobee Rodgers, whose husband, Francis “Dick” Scobee, commanded the 25th shuttle mission. “I’m envious when I look back at Dick Scobee’s pictures, and he’s so young, and I’m a great grandmother now!”

Read the full story here.

British Actor Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey) Wishes June a Happy Birthday

August 14, 2015

Today, in San Antonio College, Texas, astronauts, scientists and students are gathering for a live link to the International Space Station. Among them will be Mark Kelly, former Commander of the Space Station. He’ll be talking to his twin brother, Scott, who will be the first human to spend a whole year in space.

Among those present, too, will be June Scobee Rogers. Her husband Dick died in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986. Together with the families of fellow crew members who perished, June established Challenger Center, a network of facilities and programmes educating young children about human spaceflight. There’s one in the UK, at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

Britain’s own intrepid pilot Carol “Lovely Carol” Vorderman has just joined the board and is in San Antonio today. She told me that June Scobee Rogers’ birthday is coming up, so I’m saying… June, a big Happy Birthday from the UK, Good Luck with the live link today and Thank You for the wonderful work you do, inspiring young people to reach for the stars.

From CBS Morning News: NASA unveils exhibit featuring Challenger, Columbia wreckage

August 13

Forever Remembered

AP news story by Marcia Dunn
August 3, 2015

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is offering up wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia for public view after hiding it from the world for decades.

A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center features two pieces of debris, one from each lost shuttle, as well as poignant, personal reminders of the 14 astronauts killed in flight.

It is an unprecedented collection of artifacts — the first time, in fact, that any Challenger or Columbia remains have been openly displayed.

NASA’s intent is to show how the astronauts lived, rather than how they died. As such, there are no pictures in the “Forever Remembered” exhibit of Challenger breaking apart in the Florida sky nearly 30 years ago or Columbia debris raining down on Texas 12 years ago.

Since the tragic re-entry, Columbia’s scorched remains have been stashed in off-limits offices at the space center. But NASA had to pry open the underground tomb housing Challenger’s pieces — a pair of abandoned missile silos at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — to retrieve the section of fuselage now on display.

The exhumation was conducted in secrecy. Everything about the exhibit, in fact, was kept hush-hush during the four years it took to complete the project, out of respect to the dead astronauts’ families.

June Scobee Rodgers had never seen an actual remnant of her husband’s destroyed shuttle, Challenger, until previewing the exhibit just before its low-key opening at the end of June.

Read more

Permission to Launch by Monika Blackwell

July 9, 2015

This is the first Trailblazers article in Texas A&M’s magazine Spirit

As June Scobee ‘83 sat on the ivory sofa in the living room of her Chattanooga townhome, she draped a gold chain across her neck.

“I just returned from the gym,” she apologized. “I had time to shower and dress, but I still need to put on my necklace.”

Apart from her diploma and a large pine bookcase she purchased in Spring, Texas, Scobee’s home bears little indication of her Lone Star State connection. She’s not situated on acres of ranchland nor does she festoon her walls with Texas stars or A&M pennants. But the petite 73-year-old has a rich Texas history, one that took her from San Antonio to the Johnson Space Center to Aggieland.

Although she was born in Alabama, if you ask where she is from, her response is adamant: “I’m from Texas. Period.”

“Everyone who works with my bio always wants to put that I’m from Alabama, but I only spent two years of my life there,” she added.

Much like the subject of her home state, many other aspects of Scobee’s life are composed of blurred boundaries. Her time of destitution bled into her success. Her commitment to faith comingles with her passion for science. Her private life abuts her very public persona. And one of her life’s greatest tragedies—the loss of her first husband—dovetails with some of her most significant accom­plishments.

She is the widow of Dick Scobee, com­mander of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded 73 seconds after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986.

Read entire interview (go to pg. 32)

New Scobee Education Center Opens

San Antonio College celebrated the opening of the Scobee Education Center on Friday, October 31. The state-of-the-art 22,000 square foot facility combines the Scobee Planetarium with a first-of-its-kind, next generation Challenger Learning Center.

The grand opening featured a speaking program, ribbon cutting ceremony and an open house. Local media had
the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour of the center on Wednesday prior to the grand opening. The grand opening was also celebrated with a public open house on Saturday, November 1. The open house featured walking tours, planetarium shows and an evening star party, all free and open to the public.

Read more

Lessons learned at Charleston Southern University helped me navigate turmoil: June Scobee Rodgers, PhD ’71 Founding Chair, Challenger Center

What are some of your favorite memories of your time at CSU?

My favorite memories at CSU tend to flow together around the Reflection Pond from springtime walks racing through the rain trying to make it to my next class on time to those days that I could actually take a few minutes to soak up some winter sunshine and actually “reflect” on the joy of having the opportunity to study at then Baptist College. Also, gathering with friends in the Buccaneer room or hearing great messages of encouragement during Chapel.

Read more from the interview

Scobee Education Center nears completion

By M.J. Callahan

The 21,519-square-foot Scobee Education Center, home of the Challenger Learning Center and Scobee Planetarium, is nearing the end of construction.

The Scobee Education Center will include a gift shop, an exhibit gallery, a stained-glass mural, a memorial garden, offices, two classrooms, an observatory and restrooms. The Challenger Learning Center will consist of mission control, a debriefing room, a flight simulator transporter and a space center.

A Ranger reporter and photographer toured the site March 6 with Jennifer Becerra, lead flight director.

Before spring break, the 100 seats in the planetarium were installed, and the building began to look almost ready to welcome students.

Read more at The


Challenger Center Visits President George H.W. Bush

HOUSTON (March 14, 2014) — On Thursday, leaders of Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), the nationally recognized STEM education organization, visited former President George H.W. Bush.

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, Challenger Center founding chair and widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, and Dr. Lance Bush, Challenger Center president and CEO, thanked President Bush for agreeing to serve as the Honorary Chair of the organization’s Advisory Council and for his continuous support over the past 28 years.

Read More at the Challenger Center Website


Official Statement from Dr. June Scobee Rodgers regarding Beyoncé’s single “XO”

We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song ‘XO’. The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today. Their dedication to education and exploration resulted in the creation of Challenger Center for Space Science Education and because of this we have been able to educate millions of students across America and beyond. We hope everyone remembers the crew for the inspirational legacy they left in the hearts of so many.

This statement was issued by Dr. June Scobee Rodgers in response to audio from the Challenger shuttle tragedy being used in a recently released song by recording artist Beyoncé.


Book Reviews

Download book club questions to Silver Linings here

Review by Helen Exum

Everyone has a life story, but the story behind the life of June Scobee Rodgers is not only a surprise, but it is hard to believe. One sees her today as the nationally known widow of Commander Dick Scobee who was killed when NASA’s Challenger exploded in 1986. She celebrated the lives of the Challenger crew by creating Challenger Centers to inspire young people to learn about science and space.

Read full review here

Review by Coleman Davis, Language Arts Four Class

I chose sand as my object for the purpose of not only representing the southeast with the shoreline but also symbolizing that June could not find a stable place to live. Each home she went to she would see it built, live in the residence and then move to a new domicile. She would plant a foundation in the sand, but it would not last long because of the lack of support.

Read full review here



Blush Magazine, December 2011. Her Mark – June Scobee Rodgers

Just this week, June Scobee Rodgers attended a board meeting for the New York-based Guidepost Foundation, helped plan a fundraiser in which she and former astronaut and “Dancing With the Stars” celebrity Buzz Aldrin will perform together and addressed a group of NASA researchers alongside a panel of children firing questions about space travel to Mars. These days, such a packed, high-profile schedule is commonplace for the gracious, sought-after speaker and founder of the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

Read full article here

Guideposts Magazine, Finding Strength After the Challenger Tragedy

We all remember it. January 28, 1986, the day the NASA space shuttle Challenger, carrying a seven-member crew, exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. An unspeakable tragedy for the nation, for the world. And for me. My husband, Dick Scobee, was the commander at the controls, and for a long time I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to get that day out of my mind.

Read full article here