Remembering The Challenger - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Remembering The Challenger

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER - It's a day the Space Coast will never forget. Today, NASA and those surrounding the space program mark 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

On Jan. 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m., Challenger blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center. Just 73 seconds later, the shuttle exploded, killing all seven astronauts on board.

NASA later discovered the root of the explosion to be a faulty O-ring in the shuttle's right solid rocket booster.

Twenty-five years later, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation honored the fallen astronauts during a service Friday in front of the Space Mirror Memorial, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The service came on what has become a somber week for NASA, as they also observe the dates of the Apollo 1 tragedy, on Jan. 27, 1967, and the shuttle Columbia disaster, on Feb. 1, 2003.

About Challenger and the STS-51L crew

Challenger's mission would have made history as the first to send a civilian into space.

Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, was chosen from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project.

McAuliffe, 37, had planned to communicate to students back on Earth while in orbit, and even teach lessons from aboard Challenger.

"What's amazing about this crew is the legacy that they left," said Dr. Scott Parazynski, a former space shuttle astronaut. "They wanted to continue the mission of the Teacher in Space program, so they created the Challenger Learning Center, which now reaches over 400,000 kids a year."

Parazynski is now the Challenger Center's chairman of the board.

The center was co-created by June Scobee Rogers, the widow of Challenger's commander, Dick Scobee. She spoke at Friday's service, highlighting the triumphs in education that arose from the tragedy.

The mission would have also marked the first spaceflight for pilot Michael J. Smith and payload specialist Greg Jarvis.

Rounding out the STS-51L crew were mission specialists Ellison OnizukaJudith Resnik and Ronald McNair, who became the second African-American in space two years earlier, also aboard Challenger.

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