The Challenger Disaster of 1986

By | April 26, 2019

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The Challenger Explosion. Source: (

On January 28, 1986, the United States shuttle orbiter, Space Shuttle Challenger, exploded just seventy-three seconds after liftoff, in what would become one of the most memorable events of the 1980s. Among the seven fatalities was a New Hampshire schoolteacher named Christa McAuliffe, who would have become the first civilian in space.

The Space Shuttle Program began in 1976 when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed the world’s first reusable manned spacecraft. The first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched five years later. Challenger was NASA’s second space shuttle, first launched on April 4, 1983. It completed nine successful trips before its deadly tenth launch in 1986.

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The Seven Crew Members on the Challenger. Source: (

On that fateful day, Christa McAuliffe, excited about how “lucky” she was to have been chosen for this journey into space and to be able to “teach” her students while actually viewing space for herself, prepared for a journey she thought she would never forget. It was an unforgettable day but not in the way she would have imagined. The millions of viewers, which included family and friends of the seven crewmembers, watched in horror as the Challenger appeared to “explode” in the air only seventy-three seconds into flight. But it was not just an explosion. It was much more than that.