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Space shuttle Challenger exploded 25 years ago

January 28, 2011 - UNITED STATES

Six crew members and a civilian died on 28 Jan 1986 when NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The images of the shuttle breaking apart shocked the nation. Recording one of two severe crisis times for NASA, the images are about to pass into history with the shuttle program. The other crisis was the fire aboard Columbia, which killed its crew of seven. The eighth anniversary of the Colombia accident falls just four days after Challenger's 25th. William McCool, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon, who was Israel's first astronaut

Six crew members and a civilian died on 28 Jan 1986 when NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The images of the shuttle breaking apart shocked the nation. Recording one of two severe crisis times for NASA, the images are about to pass into history with the shuttle program. The other crisis was the fire aboard Columbia, which killed its crew of seven. The eighth anniversary of the Colombia accident falls just four days after Challenger's 25th. The cause of the Challenger explosion is likely to be revisited on the anniversary, which will be marked with wreath-laying services at Cape Canaveral and at the Arlington National Cemetery. Commander Dick Scobee, pilot Mike Smith, astronauts Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair and Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to be the first teacher in space, died in the Challenger explosion. On 1 Feb 2003, Columbia broke apart in flames about 203,000 feet over Texas, 16 minutes before it was supposed to touch down in Florida. It was moving more than at twice the speed of sound. All seven aboard were killed: William McCool, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon, who was Israel's first astronaut. And the NASA shuttle program celebrates its 30th anniversary in the same year as it ends. Columbia was used for the first shuttle mission, STS-1, on 12 Apr 1981. The 25th Challenger anniversary also falls a day after the 44th anniversary of the death of three Apollo 1 astronuats. Gus Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee died on 27 Jan 1967 when a fire sweeps their command module during a ground test at Kennedy Space Center. The Challenger explosion eventually was blamed on a poorly designed gasket in a solid fuel booster that hardened in cold weather. The investigation also revealed a space agency more concerned with schedules and public relations than with safety and good decisions. The Apollo 1 and Challenger victims share a monument at the Florida space center called the Space Mirror Memorial. The Challenger crew have their own monument at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, the Challenger Memorial Plaque. And Challenger and Columbia share an online memorial.

NASA Challenger web sites

President Ronald Reagan in memorium speech for Challenger astronauts (31 Jan 1986)

Challenger and Columbia memorial

Date written/update: 2011-01-28