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Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster 25 Years - Review

Updated on September 6, 2012

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart approximately 72 seconds into the flight, which lead to the deaths of its seven crew members. That will be 25 years this year 2011. There are so many people born since 1986 and so much has happened. 2011 will mark the end of the space program at Kennedy Space Center, Florida as we know it. The week of January 24th NASA NASA gave an official Notice of Availability and Request for Information to pinpoint interest from industry for space facilities.

Breakup of the entire ship, Space Shuttle Challenger, began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. Contrary to original account, the shuttle and external tank did not actually "explode". Instead they quickly disintegrated under incredible aerodynamic forces. When the external tank crumbled, the fuel and oxidizer stored within it were released, producing what looked like a massive fireball.

During space ship breakup, the crew cabin separated in one piece and slowly tumbled into a ballistic arc. The cabin hit the ocean surface at approximately 207 mph with a probable deceleration at impact of well over 200 g, far beyond the structural limits of the crew compartment or crew survivability levels.

In April 1986 the remains of the crew were returned to their families. Two of the astronauts, Dick Scobee and Capt. Michael J. Smith, were buried by their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Mission Specialist Lt Col Ellison Onizuka was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Dr. Ronald McNair is interred in South Carolina.

STS-51-L crew members: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik

STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik
STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik
STS-51-L
STS-51-L
Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after take-off.
Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after take-off.
approx 58.32 seconds aft launch photo shows an unusual plume in the lower part of right hand solid rocket booster (SRB)
approx 58.32 seconds aft launch photo shows an unusual plume in the lower part of right hand solid rocket booster (SRB)
Although pieces were badly deformed, lack of any fire damage marring debris supports investigative team's conclusion that IUS played no part in accident
Although pieces were badly deformed, lack of any fire damage marring debris supports investigative team's conclusion that IUS played no part in accident

Dr. Ronald Ervin McNair

Dr. McNair was assigned as a mission specialist on STS 51-L. Dr. McNair died on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from the Kennedy Space Center, FL. The disaster took the lives of the spacecraft commander, Mr. F.R. Scobee, the pilot, Commander M.J. Smith (USN), mission specialists, Lieutenant Colonel E.S. Onizuka (USAF), and Dr. J.A. Resnik, and two civilian payload specialists, Mr. G.B. Jarvis and Mrs. S. C. McAuliffe, teacher

They were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. It’s the highest accolade given in NASA, awarded by the President of the United States in Congress' name on recommendations from the NASA. While the Congressional Space Medal of Honor is a civilian award of the United States government, it is approved as a military decoration for display on U.S. military uniforms due to the esteem of the honor.

Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D. (October 21, 1950  January 28, 1986) was a physicist and NASA astronaut
Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D. (October 21, 1950 January 28, 1986) was a physicist and NASA astronaut
Space Congressional Medal of Honor
Space Congressional Medal of Honor
Tomb of Ronald McNair South Carolina
Tomb of Ronald McNair South Carolina
Ronald McNair statue from McNair Park, Lake City, SC
Ronald McNair statue from McNair Park, Lake City, SC
Looking south from Eastern Parkway into en:Ronald McNair Park Brooklyn, NY
Looking south from Eastern Parkway into en:Ronald McNair Park Brooklyn, NY
The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery
The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery
Challanger Memorial in Mountains of Jerusalem Israel
Challanger Memorial in Mountains of Jerusalem Israel
Memorial garden & monument to crews of Apollo 1, STS-51-L (Challenger), and STS-107 (Columbia) Located at New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, NM
Memorial garden & monument to crews of Apollo 1, STS-51-L (Challenger), and STS-107 (Columbia) Located at New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, NM

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    • dashingclaire profile imageAUTHOR

      dashingclaire 

      7 years ago from United States

      ktrapp I think a lot of us remember where and/or what we were doing that day. Sad reminder Thanks

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      This is a very nice tribute. I remember that moment so clearly. I had gone back to my apartment between college classes and turned on the tv only to watch this horrific event. It truly was a tragedy.

    • dashingclaire profile imageAUTHOR

      dashingclaire 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks RunAbstract it was such a fateful day

    • RunAbstract profile image

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      A very nice reminder of the ones we lost that fateful day. I watched this terrible event on TV with my young son, and the images still shake me.

      Thank you for remembering, and reminding the rest of us!

    • dashingclaire profile imageAUTHOR

      dashingclaire 

      7 years ago from United States

      agvulpes thanks for the comment. Yes a lot of us remember that fateful day - 25 years like yesterday.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 

      7 years ago from Australia

      This was one of those events where you remember what you were doing at the time. I certainly remember this very well and felt terrible for these people and their families.

      Great Hub and thanks for the reminder:-)

    • dashingclaire profile imageAUTHOR

      dashingclaire 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the comment Jamie Brock. Got NOTE: A substantial portion of the content on this hub appears on other sites Since the hub is mostly pictures, I guess that's a problem. Will try to keep hub up til Friday the 25the anniversary.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      7 years ago from Texas

      I remember this like it happened yesterday..it was such a sad day. Thank you for continuing on the memory of these awesome people! Great Hub!

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