Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Remembered: January 28, 1986

Cheryl Phillips's picture

Twenty-four years ago today, the lives of seven crew members on the Space Shuttle Challenger were lost. On January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger, 73 seconds into its flight, the spacecraft exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida. Still vividly remembered by many, 11:38 a.m. EST on January 28 is a time to reflect on the tragic loss of the seven astronaut's lives.

The launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger was of great interest back in 1986 due to the presence of New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe on the Challenger crew. Christa was the first member of the Teacher in Space Project.

Social media was not a player in the media back in 1986 so the only live national TV coverage was provided by CNN. Several radio networks were also live on lift-off day, January 23, 1986.

Watch the ABC report on the 1986 Challenger explosion here.

NASA arranged for many public schools in the United States to view the launch live on NASA TV due to the Teacher in Space Program. A great number of children watched the launch at school and witness the disaster. The majority of the children were between the ages of 9 and 14.

Disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor. Several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft but there was no escape system and the astronauts did not survive the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface.

It's a disaster that has touched the lives of many. Three days after the Challenger explosion, President Ronald Reagan traveled with his wife Nancy traveled to the Johnson Space Center to speak at a memorial service. He stated, "Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain."

Written by Cheryl Phillips

sources: NASA, Wikipedia,

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