Jan
28

Today in Smithsonian History: January 28, 1986

The smoke plume from Space Shuttle Challenger's in-flight breakup, which resulted in its crash and the deaths of all seven crew members. (Image via Wikipedia Commons)

The smoke plume from Space Shuttle Challenger’s in-flight breakup, which resulted in its crash and the deaths of all seven crew members. (Image via Wikipedia Commons)

January 28, 1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger breaks apart 73 seconds after launch, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. As is the custom with all space launches, video monitors have been set up in the National Air and Space Museum for visitors to watch the launch and the disaster is witnessed by the horrified crowd that has gathered in Space Hall. In later weeks the Air and Space Museum is seen as “a monument to aviation’s history of triumph and tragedy,” and many film crews broadcast from the museum. Visitors leave mementos, including a poem that Director Walter J. Boyne reads at the unveiling of a memorial to the crew, mounted before the museum’s model of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

The Challenger disaster destroyed NASA’s ambitions for frequent, affordable space flight.“ Those high hopes got dashed by Challenger, and they’ve never really come back in quite the same way,” said Roger Launius of the National Air and Space Museum. “When we lost the vehicle, we realized at that point that it was never going to be the kind of operational spacecraft that was intended, that it really was an experimental spacecraft.”

Read more from USA TODAY: In 73 seconds, everything changed for Challenger


Posted: 28 January 2017
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