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GordonD

STS-51L Challenger

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On this day in 1986 the twenty-fifth Shuttle mission ended in tragedy when the vehicle exploded just 73 seconds after launch. Investigation revealed that the extremely cold temperature meant that a rubber-like O-ring meant to seal the joint between two segments of the starboard Solid Rocket Booster had failed to seat properly, allowing exhaust flame to burn through the casing. This happened to be next to the SRB's rear attachment strut: the flame cut through the strut and the booster came free and punctured the External Tank, causing a huge fireball. The Orbiter was broken up by the Mach 3 airflow and the crew cabin was relatively intact when it hit the ocean. Studies showed that at least some of the crew were still alive at that point, though hopefully unconscious.

 

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Ellison Onizuka / Christa McAuliffe / Greg Jarvis / Judy Resnik

Mike Smith / Dick Scobee / Ron McNair

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Well remembered Gordon - one of those significant events in history when you recall where you were when you first heard the news.

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