Twenty-four years ago, today, on a cold and sunny day at Cape Canaveral, FL. a tragic accident happened to the Space Shuttle Program's infant history, the Challenger exploded shortly after lift off. What made this particular launch unique was that it supposed to carry the first civilian into space, Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire. She had won a contest and spent months training for this mission and became an instant celebrity across America. Finally, her dream ended seventy-three seconds as millions across the nation, her family at Cape Canaveral, and students at her high school watched in horror as the shuttle exploded that some say was equivalent to a hydrogen bomb exploding.
It took months to determine the cause of the explosion. President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission, headed by former secretary of state Williams Rogers, along with former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot, Chuck Yeager. The final investigation determined that the explosion was caused by the failure of an "O-Ring" seal in one of the two rocket boosters because of the unusually cold temperatures. Space Shuttle flights were halted until NASA redesigned many of the safety mechanisms and in September of 1988, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched successfully for the first time since the tragedy.
So, let us take the time to remember those seven astronauts who lost their lives twenty-four years ago today and most recently the disaster of the Space Shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003. There are two videos about the accident. The first, is the explosion itself and the second one is President Ronald Reagan's live address to the nation to mourn the lost of the crew members and decided to cancel that evening's State of the Union Speech.