On the 30th Anniversary of the Challenger Disaster, a Look Back in Photos
As NASA aims for Mars, the risks of space flight still weigh heavy on the minds of all involved in the agency. This year America's space program will mark 30 years since the space shuttle Challenger explosion that occurred on Jan. 28, 1986.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other senior officials headed to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia today for the annual "Day of Remembrance" to commemorate fallen members of the space agency. At other NASA sites, including at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, officials will hold their own memorial ceremonies.
The arrival of the 30th anniversary also brings back anguished memories from those who recall the disaster—when the Challenger shuttle blew up just 73 seconds after liftoff over the Atlantic Ocean. A seal called an O-ring failed, resulting in the tragedy that killed all seven crew members.
The catastrophe counted social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe among the dead. The Associated Press published a recent article on how several of McAuliffe's former students at Concord High School in New Hampshire went into teaching, inspired by their teacher before she attempted to become the first American civilian in space.
Next year NASA faces another significant anniversary of a deadly tragedy. The fatal Apollo 1 launch pad fire occurred on Jan. 27, 1967. That means the 50th anniversary of the incident will pass a year from now—serving again as a reminder of the dangers that astronauts and other NASA workers stare down as they seek out new worlds.
The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger STS 51-L mission, (L to R -back row) Ellison S Onizuka, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory B Jarvis, Judith A Resnik, (L to R - front row) Michael J Smith, Francis R Scobee and Ronald E McNair pose in 1985. All seven astronauts onboard the Challenger died 29-years ago on Jan. 28, 1986 when the space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff.
In this 1985 photo, high school teacher Christa McAuliffe rides with her children Caroline, left, and Scott during a parade down Main Street in Concord, N.H.
Christa McAuliffe of Concord High, Concord, New Hampshire, runs in place on a treadmill to test physiological responses at Johnson Space Center. McAuliffe was eventually chosen as the first Teacher in Space and was a member of the seven-member Challenger shuttle crew.
Christa McAuliffe, representing the Teacher-in-Space Project, floats during a few moments of weightlessness aboard a KC-135 aircraft. The flight is part of her training for the scheduled five-day flight aboard the Challenger in January.
Challenger crew members are seated for breakfast launch morning prior to liftoff of the space shuttle Challenger scheduled for 9:38 a.m.
The space shuttle Challenger lifts off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 11:38 a.m., EST, in this January 28, 1986 file photo. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch.
The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Two unidentified spectators at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. react after they witnessed the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Honor guard passes line of dignitaries while escorting flag-draped coffins containing remains of Shuttle Challenger astronauts during ceremonious departure from Kennedy Space Center.
President Ronald Reagan tells a large turnout of Johnson Space Center (JSC) employees and family and friends of the Challenger crew members about their accomplishments and sacrifices during memorial services held four days following the space shuttle Challenger accident at Kennedy Space Center. "They slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God", the Chief Executive told the thousands gathered on the central mall at JSC.
President Ronald Reagan (5R) and wife Nancy (6R) standing with wife of astronaut Michael Smith and other family members at memorial service for the victims of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife Alexis lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.
Video: LIVE: 30th anniversary of Challenger disaster commemorated by NASA
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