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Space Shuttle Challenger Remembers 35 Years After Its Explosion | Science and Technology News

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NASA is using its Day of Remembrance to mark the 35th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy that shocked the world.

The American space agency NASA commemorates Thursday the 35th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, its Remembrance Day, recalling the defining moment of “mourning”.

“Thirty-five years ago today, NASA and the nation lost seven of our family members in a moment that left a timestamp on American history – a ‘Where were you when …’ moment created uniquely when a nation’s shared dreams and values ​​collide shared grief, ”Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s interim administrator, said on the agency’s website.

The Challenger was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 28, 1986.

Fragments of the Space Shuttle Challenger Orbiter can be seen tumbling against the backdrop of fire, smoke, and vaporized propellants in this NASA photo dated Jan. 28, 1986. [File: NASA/Handout/Reuters]

Seventy-three seconds after takeoff, the shuttle exploded due to what would be considered a faulty solid rocket thruster. All seven people on board are deceased: Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith, Ellison Onizuka and Christa McAuliffe.

McAuliffe was to be the first teacher in space. McNair, an astronaut and physicist, was the second black American to fly in space.

Christa McAuliffe experiences microgravity aboard a “ zero gravity ” KC-135 aircraft in this 1986 NASA photo. McAuliffe was part of the Teacher in Space project aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger [File: NASA/Handout/Reuters]

The disaster aroused mourning and condolences from around the world.

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for the trip and said goodbye to each other and ‘slipped the surly bonds of the earth” to “touch the face of God, ”then President Ronald Reagan said in his eulogy.

Then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wrote to Reagan: “We share your grief over the tragic death of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger. We extend our condolences to the people of the United States and to the families of those killed in the crash. “


The disaster prompted an investigation into the cause of the explosion called the Rogers Commission Report.

He found serious gaps in the scientific understanding of the leadership of NASA. It was determined that the booster motor failure was caused by rubber O-rings intended to seal the rocket thrusters.

O-rings have never been tested to withstand extreme cold, as found when the shuttle flew higher on the morning of the explosion.

The investigation found that engineers at Morton Thiokol, the government contractor responsible for their production, had raised concerns about the O-rings, but those concerns were ignored by NASA officials.

The morning of the launch saw temperatures of -2.2C to -1.7C (28.0F to 28.9F), well below normal for takeoffs.

Icicles formed on the launch pad and service tower in the evening and early morning before the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in this NASA image dated January 28, 1986 [File: NASA/Handout/Reuters]

The report notes that “communication failures” led to a launch “based on incomplete and sometimes misleading information, a conflict between technical data and management judgments, and a NASA management structure that allowed internal flight safety issues bypass the main shuttle managers.

In response to the investigation, NASA established the Bureau of Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance and rebuilt solid rocket boosters under the supervision of an independent commission.

The US Space Shuttle Program was active from 1981 to 2011 for a total of 135 flights. It carried a combined total of 1,593 tonnes of cargo in space.

NASA also remembered the crews of Apollo 1, which saw three astronauts die in 1967, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, which saw seven astronauts die as they re-entered the atmosphere. earthly.

NASA is currently working to send humans to Mars and put another man and the first woman on the Moon, Jurczyk said.


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