Jan. 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger Breaks Apart After Launch
On this day in 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after launch. Seven crew members were lost, including Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe.
After the Challenger explosion, President Ronald Reagan spoke to the public, especially to young children who had been watching the liftoff on television:
“…I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them…”
Read President Reagan’s full speech here.
Photo Credit: Photo from Jan. 9, 1986 - the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (NASA)