For 30 years, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley has kept a parking pass in his office. It reads “51 L Press Site,” and it gave a 28-year-old Pelley permission to park in the media area at the Kennedy Space Center to cover the last launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
“It was the biggest story that I’d ever covered. It was the first American national tragedy that I ever covered,” he said in an interview.
Pelley was a reporter for a local news station in Texas, assigned to cover the disaster, and he describes the suffocating heartache he encountered when he arrived in Florida. “It was so wrenching. We had never lost an astronaut in flight,” he said. “That’s when we were all reminded that astronauts are heroes for a reason.”