Thirty-six years ago Friday, the world suffered a tragedy witnessed live on worldwide television. The Space Shuttle Challenger had just lifted off from Florida, marking the twenty-fifth flight of the Space Shuttle program. The flight had been delayed due to the frigid temperatures in Florida.  

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On January 28, 1986, America lost seven astronauts who dreamed of exploring space. Christa McAuliffe was supposed to be the first teacher in space but died tragically when the shuttle's O-rings failed, thus igniting the explosion. The other astronauts who died that day were Francis R. Scobee, Commander, Michael J. Smith, Pilot, Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist, Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist. Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist Gregory Jarvis, Payload Specialist.

President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation that evening, trying to comfort the families who lost loved ones and the entire country. Th3re has been speculation that some of the astronauts survived the explosion but were killed on impact with the ocean. NASA did find the crew compartment utterly intact on the ocean floor. There was no escape option built into the Challenger.  

NASA suspended operations of the shuttle for thirty-two months. Space Shuttle Endeavor was built to take the place of Challenger. In 2003, the Columbia Space Shuttle was destroyed upon its reentry into the Earth's atmosphere killing all astronauts. The shuttle program was retired in 2011 after thirty years of service.  


 



From Wikipedia:

On May 20, 1986, the commingled cremated remains of the seven Challenger astronauts were buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 46, Grave 1129.

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The broadcast as it happened on CNN.

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