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This Day in History

World History

Tuesday, January 28, 1986. :   The Space Shuttle 'Challenger' explodes, killing seven.

     Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, after Columbia. Its first voyage was on 4 April 1983, and it made eight further round trips to low earth orbit before its final ill-fated flight in January 1986. On board were mission commander Francis R Scobee, pilot Michael J Smith, mission specialists Ronald E McNair, Ellison S Onizuka, and Judith A Resnik, payload specialist Gregory B Jarvis and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. 37-year-old McAuliffe was to be the first civilian to fly into space as part of a new program called TISP, the Teacher In Space Program.

After lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:38am on 28 January 1986, the Challenger exploded, just 73 seconds into its launch. All crew members were killed instantly. Investigations later revealed that the spacecraft broke up during the launch due to an unusually cold morning and the failure of rubber seals in the booster engines called "O rings" that failed to seal properly. Space shuttle missions resumed in September, 1988.

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