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Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes 73 Seconds After Liftoff


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25th-space-shuttle-51l-challenger.htmlFamous Daily: Gary Satanovsky

January 28, 2012

 

Launching a space shuttle 150 miles in outer space is tricky business. The Challenger weighed in at near 270,000 pounds, requiring over two million pounds of solid fuel to launch. Needless to say, in an undertaking of such enormous complexity, everything has to be accounted. That was the main problem that led to the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle just seconds after its launch.

 

On this day, January 28, 1986 after days of delay due to mechanical problems and inclement weather the Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff. Photographic evidence, which was studied at some length in the subsequent investigations, revealed a leak from the right solid rocket booster carrying the shuttle half a second after liftoff. The hot gases from the booster breached the shuttle’s main fuel tank, and 73 seconds after launch the space shuttle exploded from the inside out.

 

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A terrible tragedy. I lived in Brevard County, FL for 15 years during that time. Until the ill-fated Challenger flight, I had personally seen every Shuttle launch. I missed that one, being out of state for a training course.

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