- Education and Science
Last Flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, Watch Detailed Documentary About the Poor Technical Design And Management
Seven Crew Members Killed In The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - January 28th 1986
"The Last Flight of Space Shuttle Challenger" PT 1-5 (VIDEOS 1-5 Of The Documentary Can Be Viewed in Full Below).
I will never forget where I was on the morning of January 28, 1986 at 11:38am. I was only 7 years old. I remember that the earlier weeks before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, my class was studying space for this spectacular event and we colored Space Shuttle pictures in celebration. in the days before I had heard a lot about the mission from school and my parents but I still had know understanding of the history about to take place. In fact, I never knew the importance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) until that year just because of the up and coming launch.
I was totally fascinated with one of the crew members, the school teacher, Christa McAuliffe. I had heard from my teacher how she was the first member of the "Teacher In Space Project" and first civilian to go on a space mission. Back then women didn't participate in too many aviation missions so my teacher had me highly ecstatic about viewing this particular launch. It made me feel good to see a woman making history live. Another crew member aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger who was making history that day was, Ellison Shoji Onizuka. He was the first Asian American to reach space. Many viewed the launch live because of the presence of history being made with the crew, including thousands of classes in various schools all over the world. With my class included, we too gathered to watch never knowing at all what was about to take place before our little eyes. Along with millions of viewers, we all watched in horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger went up as planned and then suddenly disintegrated without warning after launching from Kennedy Space Center. The tragedy happened approximately 73 seconds after take-off.
It was later discovered by the Rogers Commission (a special commission appointed by the US President at the time, Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident) that the design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but they failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning. They had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors resulting in this devastating tragedy. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 a.m in front of thousands of anxious onlookers.
Recently online I had the pleasure of viewing a documentary about the Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-51-L. It was called, "The Last Flight of Space Shuttle Challenger" PT 1-5 (VIDEOS 1-5 Of The Documentary Can Be Viewed in Full Below). This detailed and graphic documentary talked about the poor technical design and even worse management that ultimately led to the 1986 shuttle disaster. On this years anniversary, It really opened my eyes too how far we have came over the last 25 years with the strict NASA safety regulations put in place following this disaster. There is always more work to do but when you view this particular set of videos, you see that people made devastating and unheard of mistakes back in 1986.
I don't think that the blame game is necessary some twenty-five years later but it is important to understand what led to such a great tragedy in history. There have been other aviation disasters since this one that have helped NASA to learn how they can keep our Astronauts safer while on space missions. For example, The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. This tragedy resulted in the death of all seven crew members, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107. It was also investigated that foam broke off the External Tank, striking Columbia's left wing. This in fact played a fatal role in the disaster.
These historic but sad missions have not discouraged the next generation of thrill seekers. In fact, some of the crew members who perished have family and kids who have also went on to succeed in challenging but important careers. These special heroes have not gone on forgotten. Have you noticed that in every very new U.S. passport there is this quote:
"Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look at new worlds... to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation." - Ellison S. Onizuka.
An airfield is named after Michael J. Smith in his home town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee was awarded many metals including the Purple Heart (posthumously) and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2004. Ronald E. McNair has a large number of schools named after him all over the US including the Ronald McNair Middle School in Decatur, Georgia and the Ronald McNair Middle School in College Park, Georgia. The crater "McNair" on the Moon is also named in his honor. Christa McAuliffe has approximately 40 schools around the world that have been named after her, including the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Education. Teaching Excellence at Framingham State College are named in her memory also. Gregory B. Jarvis was honored when Mohawk Central High School in Mohawk, NY was renamed, "Gregory B. Jarvis Jr/Sr High School." Judith Resnik has been awarded many posthumous honors. Numerous public buildings and facilities have been named after her, mostly schools and educational facilities, including a dormitory at her Alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, and the main engineering lecture hall at the University of Maryland. In 2004, all seven crew members were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.