NASA observed its annual “Day of Remembrance” on Wednesday, marking the 29th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. The shuttle exploded over the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986, killing all seven crew members.
The crew included schoolteacher Crista McAuliffe, who was selected to be the first U.S. civilian in space. But the shuttle never reached orbit, breaking apart shortly after leaving Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
An external tank exploded on the Challenger after a seal called an O-ring failed at liftoff. The tragic mission was a huge blow to NASA. The agency’s “Return to Flight” mission occurred almost three years later on Sept. 29, 1988. The Day of Remembrance also honors the astronauts killed during a pre-launch test for Apollo 1 in 1967 and the crew killed upon re-entry on the Columbia in 2003.
SOURCE: Chron.com | Matt Levin