Space Shuttle Challenger

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The fuel tank itself collapsed and tore apart, and the resulting flood of liquid oxygen and hydrogen created the huge fireball believed by many to be an explosion. After the collapse of its fuel tank, the Challenger itself remained momentarily intact, and actually continued moving upwards.

Without its fuel tank and boosters beneath it, however, powerful aerodynamic forces soon pulled the orbiter apart.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Oral History

The pieces—including the crew cabin—reached an altitude of some 65, feet before falling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean below. The Challenger crew. Front row L-R : Michael J. Relatively few people actually saw the Challenger disaster unfold on live television. All major networks carrying the launch cut away when the shuttle broke apart, and the tragedy occurred at a time a.


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Eastern Time on a Tuesday when most people were in school or at work. CNN broadcast the launch in its entirety, but cable news was a relatively new phenomenon at the time, and even fewer people had satellite dishes. But the rumors that pressure was exerted from above, specifically from the Reagan White House, in order to connect the shuttle or its astronauts directly in some way with the State of the Union seem to have been politically motivated and not based on any direct evidence.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Reagan postponed his annual message to the nation the first, and so far only, time in history a president has done so and addressed the nation about the Challenger instead. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger.

Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion Isolated Camera Composite and Flight Loop

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How record-setting cold contributed to the space shuttle Challenger disaster on Jan. 28, 1986

On January 28, , Scobee was about to graduate from the Air Force Academy when he joined his mother and the other crew members' families in Florida to watch his father, mission commander Dick Scobee and six other astronauts blast off aboard Challenger. He remembers standing on the roof of NASA's launch control at the Kennedy Space Center and being excited that the crystal clear sky would offer a perfect view of the separation of Challenger's solid rocket boosters. Seconds after liftoff, "I knew something was wrong immediately," Scobee recalls. Watching his mother, June, go through it was horrible memory that has never left him.

Challenger lifts off on January 28, Her career as an English professor helped her bond closely with the civilian member of Challenger's crew, Christa McAuliffe.

What to Read Next

After an investigation, the explosion was blamed on a seal inside a rocket booster which leaked due to cold weather. Hot exhaust escaped through the seal and ruptured the shuttle's external fuel tank, triggering an explosion. The horrifying public aspect of the tragedy sometimes overshadows the rest of Dick Scobee's life.


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