The Challenger Disaster

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The Challenger Disaster “Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain,” said President Ronald Reagan on January 28, 1986 as he spoke of the Challenger’s tragic event. STS 51-L was in the beginning stage of the United States’ space shuttle program. The space shuttle Challenger exploded after seventy-three seconds of glory and fame. It involved the death of seven crewmembers including the first civilian (Teacher-in-Space) chosen to go into space and it also destroyed the orbiter’s satellite cargo. Manufacturing engineers tried to stop this mission, because they were concerned that the cold weather might potentially affect the flight. NASA ignored those concerns and took the risk of flying the shuttle in the cold weather because of their delay in launching shuttles, and they could not stand against the pressure. Even though this catastrophic event severely set back the United States’ space programs in the 1980s, it improved the United States’ space shuttle program and crew safety in the long run. Preparation for the twenty-fifth space shuttle mission STS 51-L started about two years before its launch. It was initially scheduled for December 23, 1985. It was later rescheduled to January of 1986 due to the cargo changes and delays in the Columbia launch 61-C. On January 27, 1985 the crew of seven people was selected: Mission Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair, and Judith A. Resnick, Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, and the first teacher in space, Sharon Christa McAuliffe (Magill 656). NASA came up with the TISP (Teacher-in-Space Program) idea and the White House favored it. TISP was also a benefit for NASA, because it seemed to demonstrate that the space shuttle was safe, and it was promised to get the

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