Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099)
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service. Space Shuttle Columbia was the first. Its maiden flight was on April 4, 1983, and it completed nine missions before breaking apart 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission, STS-51-L on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members. The accident led to a two-and-a-half year grounding of the shuttle fleet, with missions resuming in 1988 with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-26.
NASA's Orbiter Vehicle Designation for Space Shuttle Challenger was OV-099. After its first flight in April 1983, Challenger quickly became the workhorse of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet, flying more missions per year than Columbia. In 1983 and 1984, Challenger flew on 85% of all Space Shuttle missions. Had STS-51-L been successful, Challenger's next mission would have been the deployment of the Ulysses probe with the Centaur to study the polar regions of the Sun.
Challenger's many accomplishments included the first American woman, African-American, and Canadian in space; three Spacelab missions; and the first night launch and night landing of a Space Shuttle. Challenger was also the first space shuttle to be destroyed in an accident during a mission.
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida, United States, at 11:39 a.m. Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent Solid Rocket Booster attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB's aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.
Many viewed the launch live due to the presence on the crew of Christa McAuliffe, the first member of the Teacher in Space Project. Media coverage of the accident was extensive: one study reported that 85 percent of Americans surveyed had heard the news within an hour of the accident. The Challenger disaster has been used as a case study in many discussions of engineering safety and workplace ethics.
The crew of Space Shuttle Challenger Flight STS-51L consisted of 7 astronauts:
- Francis R. Scobee - Mission Commander
- Michael J. Smith - Pilot
- Gregory B. Jarvis - Payload Specialist 1
- Christa McAuliffe - Payload Specialist 2
- Judith A. Resnik - Mission Specialist 1
- Ellison S. Onizuka - Mission Specialist 2
- Ronald E. McNair - Mission Specialist 3
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Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099)