Do you remember where you were when the American Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live television?
On January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, bringing a devastating end to the spacecraft’s 10th mission.
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The crew members on board included: the first teacher in space, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Francis R. Scobee, mission commander; Gregory Jarvis, payload specialist; Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
The mission’s launch from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, had already been delayed for six days due to weather and technical problems. However, at 11:39 a.m. that morning, the Challenger lifted off despite the unusually cold temperatures. The mission only lasted just 1 minute and 13 seconds, traveling a total of 18 miles.
Hundreds on the ground at the space center, stared in horror as the shuttle exploded into a plume of smoke and fire. Millions around the world also watched the heart-wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. Within moments, the Challenger disintegrated over the Altantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, killing its entire crew, traumatizing the nation and throwing NASA’s shuttle program into utter turmoil.
The Shuttle disaster was later blamed on a failed O-ring seal in the right rocket booster. The seal had become brittle because of the cold temperature that morning.