In 1986, instead of an elementary school teacher, NASA had initially considered Big Bird as their final passenger on the ill-fated Challenger mission…
Elmo: —our dear friends will be missed, and we must never forget, so they can live in our hearts forever!
Kid: They’re… dead?
Kid 2: (recognizing human-avian mortality) B-bb-bbhh…
(Kids sob on National TV)
Producer: (into mic) Plan B — Bring out Big Bird.
(Big Bird understudy walks in from studio left)
Big Bird: (dancing) You thought I was gonna be gone forever?
Elmo: Like a Phoenix he rises from the ashes!
Kid: And what about all of the astronauts?
Kid 2: Are they all okay, too?
(For a moment, everything is still)
Producer: (into mic) ….. Plan C…. Bring them out….
(Challenger Space Team Muppets walk in from studio right)