Sally Ride: The Impact of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s Explosion

Challenger explosion

January 28, 1986 found Sally Ride flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Houston, Texas on a commercial flight.  The plane’s Captain did not know that Sally was aboard the plane when he announced that the Space Shuttle Challenger had just exploded after it’s launch from Cape Canaveral.  Sally was shocked and rushed to the flight deck, showing her NASA credentials.  She listened to continuing details of Challenger’s demise.  Her friends and co-workers were on that ship and had perished.  Upon landing, Sally proceeded directly to NASA headquarters.  The charts shown below are all located for the city of Houston, Texas.


Sally’s t/Moon-to-n/Sun Return prior to the destruction of Challenger occurred on Jan. 20, 1986.  Sally had taken two trips into space aboard Challenger.  The present launch crew consisted of names familiar to many American’s: Dick Scobee, El Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair.  Scobee and Resnik had been part of NASA’s introduction of its new astronaut class, along with Sally,  She had known these people for almost a decade; now, they were gone.  Along with Challenger. This flight had also included Christa McAullife, a teacher who was to play a major role in NASA’s program to bring the Space Program into the nation’s school rooms.

However, that was eight days after this chart.  What we are exploring in this series of charts is the portrayal of an event that affects one, but which is also separate from the affected person.  Will this indirect chart tell us of Sally’s reaction to this tragic event?  t/Moon-MC indicates that this period will be very much an “in the public eye” period, something that was not unusual for Sally Ride.  Sally’s natal Sun-Mars conjunction at the MC indicates that she will be highly visible and very active in the upcoming cyclic period.  The opposition of these 10th house and MC factors to t/Saturn at the IC angle tells us of hard-to-manage events, and (using 20-20 hindsight) grief, sadness.  This is all of the angular components in this chart.  We can note the non-angular t/Part of Fortune (t/PoF) conjoining t/Neptune and opposing n/Uranus:  Sudden and highly confusing events or situations will create changes and upsets during this cycle.  Now that the above comments have been made it is necessary to go back to the one thing that I usually post first — the theme of the chart.  In this case the t/Moon-to-n/Sun position is in the 10th house, near the MC angle.  This cyclic period will clearly impact Sally’s career.

Challenger crewAs noted earlier, most of the Challenger crew were Sally’s co-workers and friends. The loss of Challenger and its crew was tragic for NASA who had reached a point where four of the Space Shuttles were flying routine loads into space (satellites)  or supplying the being-assembled International Space Station.  With the Challenger explosion, everything came to a screeching halt.

The chart below is Sally’s Advanced daily chart for the day of the explosion.


The chart angles show little activity, indicating very little involvement for Sally on this day.  t/Chiron-MC and n/N.Node-Desc. are the only close angular planets.  Using simple keywords, Associates (N.Node) will be hurting (t/Chiron) in terms of work-careers (MC).  t/Moon in the 1st house points to being publically visible and accessible (to the news media).  We can’t overlook the t/PoF transiting n/MC and n/PoF !  Whenever the natal and transiting PoF conjoin, a super-sized headache event is likely to occur.  With the involvement of the n/MC, and t/MC-Chiron being active, events of the day definitely relate to Sally’s career.

Three days later NASA announced that President Ronald Reagan had formed a Presidential commission to investigate the Challenger’s destruction.  Sally was the lone astronaut to be included in that group.  We haven’t talked much here about Sally’s work ethic and intense drive to excell.  In her eight years with NASA, and in the midst of so many keen minds and talent, Sally stood out as one who got things done, who knew everything to know about the shuttle program and the technology that made it run.  Few spoke to her as “Doctor Ride” but everyone knew here PHD title was matched to an intellectual powerhouse.  Sally’s chart for her being named to the Commission on Jan. 31, 1986 is shown below.


We still find, three days later, Chiron at the MC angle, and n/N.Node at the Desc. angle. The other major change, a very significant one, is t/PoF conjoining n/Sun-n/Mars and opposing t/Mars.  It is always interesting to assess doubled-up planets in opposition to each other.  We have seen that opposing natal-transiting Suns often equate to differing view points, squared natal and transiting Mars often relates to angry words or actions, while doubled-up Moons can signify emotional turmoil.  Here, I would suggest that the appointment to the commission will reveal ‘working at cross purposes’ or ‘one hand not knowing what the other is doing.’

As it turned out, the commission did function and did identify the problems that led to the failure of the shuttle to launch.  In the course of that investigation a number of operational problems, technical problems, political decisions, carelessness, and ‘not following written procedures’ was uncovered.  It was not a pretty story.  Yet, in the end, NASA and many good people prevailed, the Space Program continued, although changes did occur.

In this posting we did note the role of the natal and transiting Part of Fortune, even when not angular, as a significant indicator of turmoil, crises and change.  Doubled-up planets (natal and transiting) also have shown the need to ’emphasize’ their interpretive statements.

I have a question.  The readership of this blog is beginning to include many new-to-astrology followers.  Would it be helpful to include a listing of astrological symbols and interpretations, as well as comments on practices such as ‘doubled up’ planets, the nature of Returns and Advanced charts, etc. in a condensed form which could be downloaded, printed, and used when following my charts and comments.  If so, make a comment here or e-mail me at     Dave


About dadsnook

Dave has been exploring cyclic astrology since the mid-1970's. CYCLIC astrology utilizes both Return charts and planetary-pair cycles for short-term prediction. These practices and nine years of archived material are available for study or reading at A new book, Personal Prediction ISBN 978-9-615-63033-5, has been published and the MC-Solar Cycle technique is now supported through a recognized software provider so that all students and practicing astrologers can apply these techniques for their own use. Recently, Dave has been exploring a new charting format:, transiting Moon to natal Sun Return charts. These moon-sun returns show how we can maintain or deal with change in our lives. A book, Personal Moon-to-Sun Returns 2 has been released in 2015. Contact Dave for details at Dave is a retired business systems analyst and automation systems engineer, enjoys woodcarving and tarot in addition to astrology.
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