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‘Major Malfunction’: Remembering the Sacrifice of the Challenger Seven

28 Jan 2019, 13:00 UTC
‘Major Malfunction’: Remembering the Sacrifice of the Challenger Seven NASA

On this day in 1986, the sight of shuttle Challenger exploding in the skies above Cape Canaveral painted an indelible mark on the public psyche and still carries the power to haunt. Over the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years to come, the loss of the shuttle and her seven-member crew—Commander Dick Scobee, Pilot Mike Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik and Ron McNair and Payload Specialists Greg Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe—would be played out again and again via television and later the internet. An innocence, veteran astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson reflected, was lost on 28 January 1986 and the ramifications of the tragedy entirely reshaped the next quarter-century of the shuttle program. Never again would this inherently dangerous machine be considered truly “safe”.

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