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Challenger Explosion

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On January 26, 1986, one of the greatest disasters of our time occurred. The shuttle, Challenger, blew up in front of a live audience. The space launch was being broadcasted across the United States live from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This launch was one of the most publicized launches due to the first civilian going into space and also that the launch had been delayed six times before.

The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission detailed that the launch took place on January 28, 1986 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The skis about Kennedy Space Center were clear and the sun was out in the sky. However the day was very cold the temperature was only slightly above freezing. This launch was going to be the coldest that NASA had ever launched before. The time of lift off was 11:38 AM Eastern Standard Time, this was when the 25th shuttle mission lifted off and headed towards space.

The diverse seven-member crew of the Challenger made it very media friendly because a civilian was going into space. The crewmembers were Commander Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. NASA wanted to try a new radical approach by trying to rekindle the excitement that once had surrounded the space program. NASA thought that if an everyday American citizen were involved, they could communicate the excitement of space travel to the American public. President Ronald Reagan made the choice that the first ordinary American to travel into space would be a teacher. NASA and President Reagan thought that one of America's teachers would be the best candidate for the trip because teachers have the ability to communicate to people and get them interested and excited about almost anything.

The shuttle would never make it into space as it exploded only seventy-three seconds after lift off killing all seven members of its crew. The explosion was blamed on the O-rings, a set of gaskets that sealed the joints between the rocket booster sections. They failed due to being exposed to cold weather. When the O-Rings failed the twin booster rockets separated and few off, the shuttle cabin separated and fell ten miles into the ocean. People who watch the videotape at around one second after ignition could see black smoke coming from the right Solid Rocket Booster (SRB). The black smoke suggested that some type of grease that sealed the O-Rings was being burned. Of course no one saw this black smoke until after the explosion, the faint traces of smoke could only been seen when



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