Sunday, January 28, 2007

STS-51L (Challenger)

All was fine for the space program, until a cold, clear morning in Florida on January 28, 1986. That day, the space shuttle Challenger was scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral on a (much delayed) mission, carrying the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. It was a perfect morning, but it would not stay that way.

When Challenger launched at 11.38 am, everything appeared a-okay. But only for 73 seconds...

...when there was an enormous ball of fire which engulfed the shuttle, and seven astronauts lost their lives, with the whole world watching.

Francis R. Scobee
Michael J. Smith
Judith A. Resnik
Ellison S. Onizuka
Ronald E. McNair
Gregory B. Jarvis
Christa McAuliffe

And all because of people being sloppy, being careless, wanting to push on regardless of the data, of hubris.

The world was in a state of shock. Investigations were conducted; promises made. And we got back into space in nearly three years later.

And again, as with Apollo 1, we celebrated the successes in space, and forgot some of the lessons learned. For seventeen years and four days...

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