1986 space shuttle challenger disaster

Challenger: The Shuttle Disaster That Changed NASA

1986 space shuttle challenger disaster

On January 28, , the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter undertaking mission STS- L and the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger (OV) broke apart

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The space shuttle was engulfed in a cloud of fire just 73 seconds after liftoff, at an altitude of some 46, feet 14, meters. It looked like an explosion, the media called it an explosion and even NASA officials mistakenly described it that way initially. But later investigation showed that in fact, there was no detonation or explosion in the way we commonly understand the concept. 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.

The space shuttle Challenger was the second shuttle to reach space, in April It successfully completed nine milestone missions during its nearly three years of service. In total, the spacecraft spent 62 days, 7 hours, 56 minutes and 22 seconds in space, according to CBS. Challenger hosted the first spacewalk of the space shuttle program on April 7, , and carried the first American female and first black astronauts. During its 10th launch, on Jan. Rockwell International, an aerospace manufacturing company, began building the shuttle in November and then sent it to Lockheed Martin, an aerospace technology company, for structural testing starting on April 2, According to NASA, computer models at the time were not sophisticated enough to calculate the stresses on the shuttle during different phases of flight.

The disintegration of the vehicle began after a joint in its right solid rocket booster SRB failed at liftoff. The failure was caused by the failure of O-ring seals used in the joint that were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch. The seals' failure caused a breach in the SRB joint, 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.

Challenger disaster , explosion of the U. Greatest visibility among the crew went to teacher-in-space Christa McAuliffe of Concord , New Hampshire , the winner of a national screening begun in McAuliffe was to conduct at least two lessons from orbit and then spend the following nine months lecturing students across the United States. The goal was to highlight the importance of teachers and to interest students in high-tech careers. The mission experienced trouble at the outset, as the launch was postponed for several days, partly because of delays in getting the previous shuttle mission, C Columbia , back on the ground.

Challenger disaster

Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986

Challenger Disaster 30 Years Ago Shocked the World, Changed NASA

And they were equally horrified to learn in the aftermath of the disaster that the faulty design had been chosen by NASA to satisfy powerful politicians who had demanded the mission be launched, even under unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, a major factor in the disaster was that NASA had been ordered to use a weaker sealant for environmental reasons. Finally, NASA consoled itself and the nation with the realization that all frontiers are dangerous and to a certain extent, such a disaster should be accepted as inevitable. At least, that seems to be how many people remember it, in whole or in part. But spaceflight historians believe that each element of the opening paragraph is factually untrue or at best extremely dubious.

The disaster claimed the lives of all seven astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire who would have been the first civilian in space., Thirty years ago today, NASA suffered a spaceflight tragedy that stunned the world and changed the agency forever.

Challenger Explosion



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