|Space Travel 101: Fundamentals of Space Travel|
The American Challenger explosion occured on the tenth mission of this space shuttle. This was the worst disaster in spaceflight that had occurred up until that time.
The Challenger was an American space shuttle orbiter that first launched on April 4, 1983 . On the tenth launch, mission STS-51-L, the infamous Challenger explosion occurred. The launch of Challenger was rescheduled several times due to bad weather and other technical difficulties. The day of the launch was the coldest day that NASA had ever launched a shuttle.
On January 28, 1986 , after an initial two-hour delay, the Challenger was launched for the tenth time. A split second into flight, a puff of gray smoke began spurting from right Solid Rocket Booster. Later studies revealed that the dense, black puffs indicated grease, joint insulation, and rubber O-rings in the joint seal were burning up. This resulted in a series of reactions that resulted in the explosion of the spacecraft 72 seconds after launch. The cause of explosion was an O-ring that failed to seal properly, and the cold weather that day contributed to its failure.
Seven crew members died in the Challenger explosion. In the front row, from left to right are Michael Smith, pilot; Francis Scobee, commander; and Ronald McNair, mission specialist. From left to right on the back row are Ellison Onizuka, mission specialist; Christa McAuliffe, payload specialist; Gregory Jarvis, payload specialist; and Judith Resnik, mission specialist.