Space shuttle Challenger disaster – 1986

Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger

I remember the year 1986 and watching the space shuttle launch. I was 18 years old and it was the last year of my high school experience; I was in the 12th grade, a senior in high school. My class room science teacher would usually have the students watch the space shuttle launches on TV. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members, which included five NASA astronauts and two Payload Specialists. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:39 EST. Disintegration of the vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized burning gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB aft field joint attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB’s aft field joint attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces broke up the orbiter.The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation. The exact timing of the death of the crew is unknown; several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft. The shuttle had no escape system, and the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable.

The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program and the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed by United States President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Rogers Commission found NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making processes had been key contributing factors to the accident. NASA managers had known since 1977 that contractor Morton Thiokol’s design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings, but they had failed to address this problem properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning, and failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.

The Space shuttle was on its 10th mission.On February 1, 2003, a second space shuttle disaster rocked the United States when Columbia disintegrated upon reentry, killing all aboard. While missions resumed in July 2005, the space shuttle program was put on retirement back in 2011.

Space shuttle Challenger disaster – 1986 – January 28th 1986

Space shuttle Columbia Explosion footage – February 1st 2003


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