On that cold morning of January 28, 1986, at 11 AM, America witnessed a disaster that would remain etched in the annals of history.
The explosion of the NASA space shuttle, Challenger. Seven astronauts died on board the shuttle, including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first civilian in space.
Her inclusion in the space mission sparked a lot of interest, so the launch was widely broadcast. Many Americans witnessed the catastrophe live on their TV screen. That day’s events would later cause a massive reform in NASA’s safety protocols and management policies.
There are a lot of stories and theories about the cause of the accident. Most of which have only added to the confusion and mystery surrounding the explosion. Here are ten things about the Challenger disaster that you’ve never heard of but should know.
10 The Challenger Had A Namesake
The Challenger, which was intended to function as a test vehicle for NASA’s shuttle program, was first known as STA-099.
Its conversion into a space shuttle was done by Rockwell International and completed in 1981. The name “Challenger” was derived from a British Naval Research Vessel, The HMS Challenger. Which navigated the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the 1870s.
The Challenger had two namesakes. The second Apollo 17, the last lunar lander, was also called The Challenger.
9 This Wasn't Its First Rodeo
Contrary to what some people believe, the ill-fated 1986 mission wasn’t the Challenger’s first flight as a space shuttle. It had completed several ground-breaking tasks since its first voyage on April 4, 1983.
One of the most memorable flights would be mission STS-41C. It would be the first time an astronaut – George Nelson – would conduct repairs on a satellite. The Challenger went on a total of 9 missions between 1983-1986.