Challenger's rollout from Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) to the
Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
Space Shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbiter
Vehicle Designation: OV-099) was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to
be put into service, after Columbia. Its maiden voyage was on April 4,
1983, and it made eight further round trips to low earth orbit before
breaking up 73 seconds into the launch of its tenth mission, on January
28, 1986. It would later be replaced by the space shuttle Endeavour,
which would be launched six years after the 51-L disaster.
Challenger was constructed using a body frame (STA-099) that had
initially been built as a test article. STA-099 had not been meant for
spaceflight, but NASA discovered that recycling it would be cheaper than
refitting the test shuttle Enterprise (OV-101) to be space worthy, as
originally planned. The spacecraft was named after a British corvette
which carried out a pioneering global marine research expedition in the
Challenger is one of two space shuttles destroyed in an accident during
a mission, the other being Columbia. The collected debris of the vessel
is currently stored in decommissioned missile silos at Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station. From time to time, further pieces of debris from the
orbiter wash up on the Florida coast. When this happens, they are
collected and transported to the silos for storage.
Space Shuttle Challenger flew 10 flights,
spent 62.41 days in space, completed 995 orbits, and flew 25,803,940
miles (it is unknown whether these are nautical or statute miles;
41,527,416 km if statute) in total, including its final mission.
during a space shuttle mission.
||Sally Ride becomes first American woman in
Deployed two communications satellites.
||Guion Bluford becomes first
African-American in space
shuttle night launch and night landing.
||First untethered spacewalk.
Deployed two communications satellites, unsuccessfully.
||Solar Maximum Mission
||First mission to carry two women.
Marc Garneau become first Canadian in
Kathryn D. Sullivan becomes first American woman to make a spacewalk.
Deployed Earth Radiation Budget Satellite.
||Carried German Spacelab
disintegrates after launch, killing all seven astronauts on board.
The crew of the final, ill-fated flight of the Challenger.
Loss of Challenger
exhaust, solid rocket booster plume and an expanding ball of
gas from the external tank is visible seconds after the
Space Shuttle Challenger accident on Jan. 28, 1986.
The Challenger catastrophe was one of the
most dramatic historical events to take place in the United States
during the 1980s. In the days after the accident millions participated
in candlelight vigils across the United States. Then president Ronald
Reagan addressed the nation and honoured the seven astronauts killed as
"heroes." Perhaps the most notable astronaut was Christa McAuliffe, a
New Hampshire school teacher. The other astronauts were Francis R.
Scobee (shuttle commander), Gregory B. Jarvis, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison
S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. It was later
discovered by NASA engineers and a separate panel of scientists
commissioned by President Reagan that the vehicle actually broke up
during the launch due to the failure of rubber seals in the booster
engines called "O rings" that failed to seal properly. Subsequently,
NASA adopted much stricter safety standards for shuttle missions.
Shuttle missions resumed in September, 1988.