by (Taylor Schilling), (Teddy Walton), (and here)


The Shuttle Challenger disaster (Mission 51L) was when NASA's space shuttle launched into the atmosphere and exploded in Cape Canaceral, Florida on January 28, 1986 (Millennium, Year by Year). Before this disaster, NASA had rocketed aloft safely 55 times and 9 times with the Challenger (Our American Century). Millions of people were watching on TV, while thousands had gathered around the launch pad to watch it in person. The Challenger was scheduled to carry cargo, and fly a shuttle-pointed tool for astronomy (SPARTAN-203). It was known as the coldest launch ever (Greene, Nick). After being rescheduled several times over the course of 2 weeks, the Challenger took off, only to be in flight for 73 seconds due to a malfunction leading to an explosion. Thoikol engineers found it to be from cold weather stiffening the rubber O-rings on the rocket, causing them to break. The O-rings let hot gases leak out of the propellents, resulting in a fire inside the booster that created a hole in the seal to burn into the external fuel tank. It burned off the supporting beams that held on the tank, initiating the explosion. The seven passengers on board - Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair, and Christa McAuliffe (who would have been the first private citizen to go to space) were all killed (NASA Space Shuttle). McAuliffe also would've been the first to go to space in the Teacher In Space Program (Berkes, Howard). The overall result led to the decision to change the design of O-rings and create a crew bailout system.
• exploded shortly after takeoff on 1-28-86, killing all seven aboard, including a schoolteacher
• caused by an o-ring failure, was US’s first space disaster in years

Source Annotation

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  • Source #1

The information in this website was about anything that has to do with space. A few examples are spaceplanes, spacecrafts, launch vehicles, missions, and future ideas - information about the shuttle Challenger was very easy to come by. The site gave detailed explanations of the history of the Challenger, the causes of the explosion, the investigation, what the results were and what changes were made because of the crash, and what NASA did next. The text was easy to follow yet still gave a full explanation of what happened. It provided a thorough information on all aspects of the Challenger, not just the fact that it exploded. It gave actual specific facts and different perspectives about the explosion. I can use this source for finding out how the shuttle blew apart. It also tells you the effects of the blast had, and what happened before with the Challenger.

  • Source #2
This site was VERY specific when it went through the explosion of the Challenger. It had several pictures of the rocket to give a visual on what went wrong to cause it to explode. It provided a step by step overview on what happened with the rocket (such as with the tank and O rings) and helped me clearly understand what happened. The information was thorough because it is detailed and specific, like with an explanation of the height time of explosion, what the gases were that had been released, where it was released from, etc. It's has a good scientific point of view and had extra information you normally don't find.

  • Source #3

Millennium, Year by Year
This book gave information about any event that had a large significance starting from 1000 AD and ending present day. The book mostly had copied news articles or a couple paragraphs on each thing they covered. The information generally gives you the facts; who, what, when, where, why - it doesn't go into a lot of detail. It isn't incredibly thorough but it is useful when I first started with the project and tried to get an idea of what happened. I used this source for basic information such as dates, who died in the explosion, and what caused the blast.

  • Source #4

Our American Century Pride and Posperity: The 80s
This particular book includes many stories on what happened during the 80s. There was only one page on the Shuttle Challenger Disaster. Most of it was facts and more of reporting the issue. The only time it went into actual detail was when they explained why the Challenger blew up. This was an O.K. source but helped me understand the idea of this disaster. I didn't have any questions on the information I read in this book.
  • Source #5
The article I read from by Nick Greene was another useful source. It gave some interesting facts on how many times the Challenger itself had flown safely. Also it went into pretty good detail on the purpose for the Shuttle Challengers mission. This includes what they were taking to space. This article was a good souce of information, and very easy to understand. The only problem I had with this source was I thought they should have some more pictures, to help their reader visualize what happened.
  • Source #6
This article from NPR by Howard Berkes was my favorite source. It gave me all of the information that I needed. It was thick in detail, and made me feel like I was actually there. It intrigued me how it said the Thoikol engineers warned NASA multiple times not to launch, yet they still launched the Challenger.There were enough pictures to help me understand what happened. If you want to learn more on this incident, I highly reccomend that you visit this site.

Reflections and Conclusions

Teddy Walton- The Shuttle Challenger Disaster was a complete tragedy. I wish that it could've never happened, yet NASA learned a lot from this. If I were NASA or one of the astronauts, I would've definately listened to the Thoikol engineers, because, if any smart engineers are saying this is going to blow up than I don't want to blow up. NASA know nows to be more precautionary, so that this doesn't repeat in the future. When I read our Overview, at the start I never new that this led to them creating safer, more durable o-rings and a crew bailout system. This was a very important event to learn about and very interesting towards our Country's history.

Taylor Schilling- I think the Challenger disaster was a terrible event that had the American people and NASA scrambling. I feel like the explosion was preventable because there were scientists who warned those in charge of the mission, yet they didn't listen because they were anxious for takeoff since the launch had already been delayed several times. If anything, I think that would call for an even more thorough inspection.Yet, without this disaster, the changes may not have been made. I wonder how they figured out the cause of the explosion with just burnt-up parts of the rocket. I think it's drastic that millions of people were watching it on TV and thousands were actually there; I remember my parents talking about how their school let them use their class time to watch the launch. I wonder if any changes have been used yet in another accident. It taught NASA to inspect our shuttles under any circumstance, not just assume they are in good condition. While the Challenger disaster wasn't good, it brought important changes to NASA.


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Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

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- All from You can find more really good pictures on this site.

Works Cited

Berkes, Howard. "Challenger: Reporting a Disaster's Cold Hard Facts." NPR. 28 January 2006. Web. 12 May 2011.

"Challenger Disaster: Remembered". 28 January 2011. Web. 17 May 2011.

Green, Nick. "Challenger Disaster- A NASA Tragedy." Web. 18 May 2011.

Millennium, Year by Year. Darling Kinolersley Publishing, Inc. New York. 1999. Print.

Our American Century Pride and Posperity: The 80s. Neil Kagan. Richmond, Virginia. 1999. Print.

Stathopoulos, Vic. "NASA Space Shuttle". 10 April, 2011. Web. 11 May, 2011.
This one is REALLY GOOD!: