Thursday, April 4, 2013
April 4 - Space Shuttle Challenger
30 years ago: Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-6) was launched on its maiden flight into space (pictured) on April 4, 1983, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It completed nine missions, including the first Space Shuttle mission during which a spacewalk was conducted, and the first in which an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (an independent spacesuit with its own life support) was used. Nearly three years later, on its tenth mission on January 28, 1986, the Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its launch (pictured). All seven crew members were killed, including Christa McAuliffe, a social studies school teacher from New Hampshire, who had been selected in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. Challenger was the first of two shuttles to be destroyed, the other being Columbia (2003) in which eight crew members were killed. The breakup of the Challenger was caused by the failure of an “O-ring” on its right solid-fuel rocket booster (SRB). The O-rings’ purpose was to seal joints between the SRB’s multiple segments.