Challenger Space Shuttle

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Challenger Shuttle

***** Location: USA
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Space Shuttle Challenger
(NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California. Its maiden flight was on April 4, 1983, and it completed nine missions before breaking apart 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission, STS-51-L on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members. It was the first of two shuttles (the other being Columbia) to be destroyed.

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff.

The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRBs aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.
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Things found on the way


the reverberating thunder
on a clear day

"Kawazu" Cliff T. Roberts
President, Fort Worth Haiku Society


alone by moonlight
did the Challenger crew touch
the face of God?

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

Chen-ou Liu, Canada
Kigo Hotline


If I may briefly remember Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, and one of the greatest, if not THE greatest physicist since Einstein.

In front of the US House of Representatives hearing on the Challenger disaster, live on tv, he demonstrated the problem with the O-rings by dipping O-ring material in a glass of ice water, which made it break rather easily as I recall. The demonstration was stupefyingly shocking in its brutal simplicity. If I'm remembering correctly, NASA at the time was having difficulty figuring out why the O-rings had failed.

Feynman was on the Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger disaster, and wouldn't sign off on the report unless his scathing criticisms of NASA's safety protocols were included in the report, which they were.

In Memoriam: Richard Feynman

Larry Bole

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