When the crew families learned what their loved ones had never learned - that Morton Thiokol and NASA both knew about the O-ring design defect - lawsuits were filed. All the cases were settled before the shuttle flew again, with redesigned Solid Rocket Booster joints, in 1988.
The families have moved on, doing the best they can to privately cope with a public disaster that broke the hearts of their fellow citizens. As a memorial to the lost astronauts, Challenger Learning Centers now help hundreds of thousands of students every year to learn real-life challenges and consider careers in science.
In the years since America's Space Transportation Systems - more commonly known as the "space shuttles" - have resumed flights, there were no further disasters until February 1, 2003. Sixteen minutes before it was due to land at the Kennedy Space Station, Columbia had a catastrophic failure. All seven members of the crew, plus the ship, were lost.
Despite the disastrous loss of Columbia, America's space program continues. Stunning pictures from Jupiter and other planets continue to amaze scientists and the public alike. The Hubble space telescope, initially suffering from a design flaw, was repaired and regularly transmits incredible data. Magnificent pictures of vast assemblies of stars are only one small example of its tremendous contribution to the study of space.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence
over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.