The Challenger Tragedy


Published in American Astrology Magazine, June 1986

by John Galleher
Psychic Astrologer And Tarot Reader



  After twenty-four successful missions in space, something went wrong, terribly wrong. As I sat in stunned silence in the days following the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger, I decided to look to astrology for any insight that it might offer toward understanding the disaster.
   I constructed a horoscope for the time of liftoff, or "birth" of the mission, at 11:38 a.m. EST on January 28th, 1986.
   Mercury, the Sun, and Venus are conjoined in the 10th house in the sign Aquarius in the mission's chart, which indicates a goal or project that expresses the hopes and wishes of society. This major planetary conjunction forms a square to both the Ascendant in Taurus, and to Pluto in Scorpio on the Descendant. This serves to set off the destructive power of Pluto and its sign Scorpio.
   In an effort to focus more clearly on the effects of this T-square, I will utilize the Sabian Symbols. These symbols, or visual images, were compiled by Marc Edmund Jones from a transmission received by American psychic, Elsie Wheeler, in 1925 in San Diego. They have been found to be very useful in clarifying the meaning of each degree of the zodiac, so much so that Dane Rudhyar later wrote a keynote for each symbol offering an evolutionary lesson in the growth and development of consciousness. I would refer you to an excellent article written on these symbols by Ed Perrone in the February,1986 issue of American Astrology.
   The Sabian Symbol for the degree of the Sun in the chart of the Challenger is: Beautifully gowned wax figures on display. Keynote: The inspiration one may derive from the appearance of Exemplars who present to us the archetypes of a new culture. The astronauts are thus seen as examples, who give to us the inspiration to face the unknown in order to further the knowledge of mankind.
   The Sabian Symbol for the degree of the Taurus Ascendant is: Cantilever bridge across a deep gorge. Keynote: The conquest of separativeness through group cooperation. This demonstrates man's capacity to conquer obstacles and to achieve the cooperative effort needed to further our evolution as well as expand our knowledge of both inner and outer space.
   Opposing the Taurus Ascendant and squaring the Aquarius Sun is the symbol for Pluto in Scorpio: Deep-sea divers. Keynote: The will to explore the hidden depths of all experiences and to search for primordial causes. The opposition and square to Pluto resulted in the deep-sea divers being used to search for the wreckage of the Challenger in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Oddly enough, one of the the submersibles used in the search was named Scorpio.
   With the Mercury-Sun-Venus conjunction representing society's hopes and wishes for a successful mission, and the Taurus Ascendant representing the physical body, or shuttle craft itself, it becomes clear that the aspects to Pluto in Scorpio spell out tragedy for the Challenger.
   A look at the rest of the chart completes the picture. With Mars in Scorpio in the 7th house squaring Jupiter in Aquarius in the 11th house, there was impulsiveness and overenthusiasm on the part of those associated with the launch. After repeated delays, everyone was eager to get underway. NASA has stated that safety is their top priority and that they were in no hurry but the chart seems to indicate otherwise. With the President due to deliver his State of the Union address that same evening, a successful launching would have made America and the President look very good. Perhaps the Sabian Symbol for Mars holds a clue to the tragedy. A military band marches noisily on through the streets. Keynote: The aggressive glorification of cultural values.
   The Moon was in Virgo at the time of the launch, forming a square to Saturn in Sagittarius on the 8th house cusp. This reflects the emotional depression we all felt on that day. The 8th house is the house of Scorpio, and again we see the theme of death and rebirth, this time as the cause of emotional heartache for those of us who witnessed the tragedy. The Sabian Symbol for Saturn, however, offers us hope for gaining a new level of love and understanding from the accident: Within the depths of the Earth new elements are being formed. Keynote: The alchemical fire which both purifies and transforms the very substance of man's inner life.
   Dane Rudhyar goes on to say, "Forces are at work in the deepest layers of the psyche which in their own way respond to the outer stimulation produced by a strong involvement in group ambitions and emotions, and even more by the powerful tensions and releases of love." The fire in which the Challenger perished can also be the fire that burns away the barriers that protect our hearts and allows us to experience love and compassion for our fellow human beings. The death of the astronauts touched us and presents us with the opportunity to experience love anew. It is the opportunity for emotional rebirth. The Challenger is literally a challenge to all of us to open our hearts and love the astronauts and their families, and to be inspired by their bravery to face the unknown in our own lives.