Christa McAuliffe would be the first educator to fly in space. Excited school children throughout America would watch the launch live on television.
But feelings of excitement, the night before Christa’s launch aboard the shuttle Challenger, are not universal. The weather is unseasonably cold. Unknown to almost everyone, extremely cold weather could jeopardize the entire mission.
Members of the launch team hotly debate the merits of delay. Roger Boisjoly, a Morton Thiokol engineer, warns of a catastrophe if the weather does not improve. He, and others, are concerned about a design flaw in the solid rocket booster.
But those favoring a later launch lose the argument. As a result, Challenger and her crew (including America’s first teacher in space) are blown out of the sky seventy-three seconds after their January 28, 1986 launch.
In this story behind the disaster, meet the astronauts and virtually visit Cape Canaveral to see its icy conditions before launch. Examine pictures of smoke coming from the right solid rocket booster while Challenger is still on the ground. Coordinate evidence from the Rogers Commission, with NASA pictures and videos, to see why Challenger exploded. Read the official transcript of the crew’s last recorded words.
Meet Dr. Richard Feynman and observe how he helps to uncover the design flaw in the rocket booster’s o-rings. See Roger Boisjoly’s memo where he warns about the o-rings and discusses their partial failures in other shuttle missions. And ... discover the medical examiner’s report which Dr. Kerwin writes after analyzing the astronauts’ remains.
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