The Space Shuttle Broke Up
On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred shortly after launching from Kennedy Space Center, resulting in the deaths of its sevenperson crew that included Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian and teacher to travel into space. Ms. McAuliffe was selected to join the crew as part of NASA’s Teachers in Space program, where she was to deliver two 15-minute lessons to millions of schoolchildren via close- circuit television during the mission. Originally, Challenger was scheduled to launch six days earlier but was delayed due to severe weather and technical issues. On the morning of the fateful launch, just 73 seconds from liftoff, Challenger broke apart after an explosion of fuel and the crew compartment plummeted into the ocean.
Later that evening, President Ronald Reagan, already scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union address, gave a national address from the Oval Office regarding the tragedy and paid tribute to the crewmembers.
Above: Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff.
Left: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.