Remembering the Challenger

25 years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch in front of a television audience of millions in what has become on of the most notable tragedies in space exploration and that NASA has ever seen. On that mission, 7 astronauts were tragically killed when the Challenger exploded after launch. The mission was supposed to mark the significance of the first schoolteacher, Christa McAuliffe, going into space.

The tragedy thrust into the spotlight the security measures of NASA and the Space Shuttle program, launching investigations into what caused the explosion (the O-rings’ failure to seal the solid rocket booster correctly) and the status of the entire United States Space Program. Weeks earlier, a mission was delayed weeks due to inclement weather and other launch issues, so officials began to wonder about and scrutinize NASA for rushing the Challenger launch to make the program appear as if it was recovering from the earlier delays.

President Reagan postponed the State of the Union Address scheduled for the same night and instead addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He finished his speech with this quote:

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ’slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

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