Space Shuttle Challenger (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) was the second orbiter of NASA's space shuttle program to be put into service, after Columbia. Challenger was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division, in Downey, California. Its maiden flight, STS-6, began on April 4, 1983. The orbiter was launched and landed nine times before breaking apart 73 seconds into its tenth mission, STS-51-L, on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members, including a civilian school teacher. It was the first of two shuttles to be destroyed in flight, the other being Columbia, in 2003. The accident led to a two-and-a-half-year grounding of the shuttle fleet; flights resumed in 1988, with STS-26 flown by Discovery. Challenger was replaced by Endeavour, which was built from structural spares ordered by NASA in the construction contracts for Discovery and Atlantis.
Challenger is launched on its first mission, STS-6
|Contract award||January 1, 1979|
|Named after||HMS Challenger (1858)|
|Status||Destroyed January 28, 1986|
April 4–9, 1983
January 28, 1986
|No. of missions||10|
|Time spent in space||62 days 07:56:22|
|No. of orbits||995|
|Distance travelled||25,803,939 mi (41,527,414 km)|
Challenger was named after HMS Challenger, a British corvette that was the command ship for the Challenger Expedition, a pioneering global marine research expedition undertaken from 1872 through 1876. The Apollo 17 lunar module, which landed on the Moon in 1972, also was named Challenger.
Because of the low production volume of orbiters, the Space Shuttle program decided to build a vehicle as a Structural Test Article, STA-099, that could later be converted to a flight vehicle. The contract for STA-099 was awarded to North American Rockwell on July 26, 1972, and construction was completed in February 1978. After STA-099's rollout, it was sent to a Lockheed test site in Palmdale, where it spent over 11 months in vibration tests designed to simulate entire shuttle flights, from launch to landing. To prevent damage during structural testing, qualification tests were performed to a safety factor of 1.2 times the design limit loads. The qualification tests were used to validate computational models, and compliance with the required 1.4 factor of safety was shown by analysis. STA-099 was essentially a complete airframe of a Space Shuttle orbiter, with only a mockup crew module installed and thermal insulation placed on its forward fuselage.
NASA planned to refit the prototype orbiter Enterprise (OV-101), used for flight testing, as the second operational orbiter; but Enterprise lacked most of the systems needed for flight, including a functional propulsion system, thermal insulation, a life support system, and most of the cockpit instrumentation. Modifying it for spaceflight would have been far too difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. Since STA-099 was not as far along in the construction of its airframe, it would be easier to upgrade to a flight article. Because STA-099's qualification testing prevented damage, NASA found that rebuilding STA-099 as OV-099 would be less expensive than refitting Enterprise. Work on converting STA-099 into Challenger began in January 1979, starting with the crew module (the pressurized portion of the vehicle) because the rest of the orbiter was still used by Lockheed. STA-099 returned to the Rockwell plant in November 1979, and the original, unfinished crew module was replaced with the newly constructed model. Major parts of STA-099, including the payload bay doors, body flap, wings, and vertical stabilizer, also had to be returned to their individual subcontractors for rework. By early 1981, most of these components had returned to Palmdale and were reinstalled on the orbiter. Work continued on the conversion until July 1982.
Challenger, as did the orbiters built after it, had fewer tiles in its Thermal Protection System than Columbia, though it still made heavier use of the white LRSI tiles on the cabin and main fuselage than did the later orbiters. Most of the tiles on the payload bay doors, upper wing surfaces, and rear fuselage surfaces were replaced with DuPont white Nomex felt insulation. These modifications and an overall lighter structure allowed Challenger to carry 2,500 lb (1,100 kg) more payload than Columbia. Challenger's fuselage and wings were also stronger than Columbia's despite being lighter. The hatch and vertical-stabilizer tile patterns were also different from those of the other orbiters. Challenger was also the first orbiter to have a head-up display system for use in the descent phase of a mission, and the first to feature Phase I main engines rated for 104% maximum thrust.
|1972 July 26||Contract Award to North American Rockwell|
|1975 November 21||Start structural assembly of crew module|
|1976 June 14||Start structural assembly of aft fuselage.|
|1977 March 16||Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman|
|1977 September 30||Start of Final Assembly|
|1978 February 10||Completed Final Assembly|
|1978 February 14||Rollout from Palmdale|
|1979 January 5||Contract Award to Rockwell International, Space Transportation Systems Division|
|1979 January 28||Start structural assembly of crew module|
|1980 November 3||Start of Final Assembly|
|1981 October 23||Completed Final Assembly|
|1982 June 30||Rollout from Palmdale|
|1982 July 1||Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards|
|1982 July 5||Delivery to KSC|
|1982 December 19||Flight Readiness Firing (FRF)|
|1983 April 4||First Flight (STS-6)|
|1986 January 28||Disintegration (STS-51-L)|
After its first flight in April 1983, Challenger flew on 85% of all Space Shuttle missions. Even when the orbiters Discovery and Atlantis joined the fleet, Challenger flew three missions a year from 1983 to 1985. Challenger, along with Discovery, was modified at Kennedy Space Center to be able to carry the Centaur-G upper stage in its payload bay. If flight STS-51-L had been successful, Challenger's next mission would have been the deployment of the Ulysses probe with the Centaur to study the polar regions of the Sun.
Challenger flew the first American woman, African-American, Dutchman and Canadian into space; carried three Spacelab missions; and performed the first night launch and night landing of a Space Shuttle. Challenger was also the first space shuttle to be destroyed in an accident during a mission. The collected debris of the vessel is currently buried in decommissioned missile silos at Launch Complex 31, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A section of the fuselage recovered from Space Shuttle Challenger can also be found at the "Forever Remembered" memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. From time to time, further pieces of debris from the orbiter wash up on the Florida coast. When this happens, they are collected and transported to the silos for storage. Because of its early loss, Challenger was the only space shuttle that never wore the NASA "meatball" logo, and was never modified with the MEDS "glass cockpit". The tail was never fitted with a drag chute – it was fitted to the remaining orbiters in 1992. Also because of its early demise Challenger was also one of only two shuttles that never visited the Mir Space Station or the International Space Station – the other one being its sister ship Columbia.
|Challenger's rollout from Orbiter Processing
Facility (OPF) to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Photo 1983-8-25 courtesy of NASA.
|Challenger while in service as structural test article STA-099.|
|#||Date||Designation||Launch pad||Landing location||Notes||Mission duration|
|1||April 4, 1983||STS-6||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Deployed TDRS-A.
First spacewalk during a space shuttle mission.
|5 days, 00 hours, 23 minutes, 42 seconds|
|2||June 18, 1983||STS-7||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space.
Deployed two communications satellites.
|6 days, 02 hours, 23 minutes, 59 seconds|
|3||August 30, 1983||STS-8||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Guion Bluford becomes first African-American in space
||6 days, 01 hours, 08 minutes, 43 seconds|
|4||February 3, 1984||STS-41-B||LC-39A||Kennedy Space Center||First untethered spacewalk using the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
||7 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds|
|5||April 6, 1984||STS-41-C||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Solar Maximum Mission service mission.||6 days, 23 hours, 40 minutes, 07 seconds|
|6||October 5, 1984||STS-41-G||LC-39A||Kennedy Space Center||First mission to carry two women.
||8 days, 05 hours, 23 minutes, 33 seconds|
|7||April 29, 1985||STS-51-B||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Carried Spacelab-3.||7 days, 00 hours, 08 minutes, 46 seconds|
|8||July 29, 1985||STS-51-F||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Carried Spacelab-2.
Only STS mission to abort after launch.
|7 days, 22 hours, 45 minutes, 26 seconds|
|9||October 30, 1985||STS-61-A||LC-39A||Edwards Air Force Base||Carried German Spacelab D-1.
Wubbo Ockels becomes the first Dutchman in space
|7 days, 00 hours, 44 minutes, 51 seconds|
|10||January 28, 1986||STS-51-L||LC-39B||(planned to land at Kennedy Space Center).||Shuttle disintegrated after launch, killing all seven astronauts on board. Would have deployed TDRS-B.||0 days, 00 hours, 01 minute, 13 seconds|
The 1986 State of the Union address was given by President Ronald Reagan to a joint session of the 99th United States Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol at 8:04 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4, 1986. The speech was the second State of the Union address of President Reagan's second term. Economic growth, increased job opportunities, and falling inflation rates were among some of the key issues discussed in this address. Reagan advocated for both an increase in national defense and a reevaluation of the federal budget, arguing the importance of national security and economic stability by appealing to American family values. In addition, the speech addressed welfare issues and proposed that new programs be created to support poor families. Reagan also asked that he be given the authority of a line-item veto. The speech lasted approximately 31 minutes and contained 3,514 words. The address was broadcast live on radio and television.
This was the first State of the Union Address to have been postponed from its original date. Reagan planned to give his address on Tuesday, January 28, 1986, but after learning of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, he postponed it for a week and addressed the nation on the day's events. Reagan delivered a much shorter address to the nation, focused solely upon the tragic events of the Challenger disaster, which served as an explanation for the delay of the speech. Reagan justified this delay by stating that “today is a day for mourning and remembering,” inviting the nation to devote the day to recognizing what he defined as “truly a national loss.”As a continuation of the tradition President Reagan started at the delivery of his State of the Union Address in 1982, he invited hand-selected special guests to be present during the speech. These four guests included Tyrone Ford, a 12-year-old with a talent in gospel music, 13-year-old Trevor Ferrell, who took an initiative to support the homeless, 13-year-old Shelby Butler, who risked her own life to save a classmate from oncoming traffic, and Richard Cavoli, a student of science who had designed an experiment that had been carried aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. These four guests were chosen because President Reagan saw them as everyday examples of young heroes in America. Each of these individuals was mentioned directly during the speech.The Democratic Party response was delivered by Senator George Mitchell (ME), Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods (MO), Gov. Charles Robb (VA), Rep. Thomas Daschle (SD), and Rep. William Gray (PA), who had previously taken part in the group response to President Reagan’s State of the Union Address delivered on January 25, 1984.President Reagan was joined before the joint session of Congress by Vice President George H. W. Bush and Speaker of the House Thomas O’Neill, who introduced Reagan before the commencement of the address.Challenger (1990 film)
Challenger is a 1990 American disaster drama television film based on the events surrounding the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Its production was somewhat controversial as the families of the astronauts generally objected to it. The film concentrates on the safety inspections and arguments surrounding the O-rings that ultimately were blamed for the explosion of Challenger. While doing this, it also aims to show the personal humanity of the seven crew members. Generally, the film supports the Space Shuttle program and the dedication of NASA personnel in general while criticizing NASA management.Challenger Colles
Challenger Colles is a range of hills on Pluto in Sputnik Planitia. It was discovered by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015. It is named in honor of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed along with all seven astronauts aboard on January 28, 1986.Challenger Point
Challenger Point is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,087-foot (4,294 m) fourteener is located 5.0 miles (8.1 km) east by south (bearing 102°) of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States. The summit is on the northwest shoulder of Kit Carson Mountain, and is a subpeak of the latter. It was renamed in memory of the seven astronauts who died when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff on January 28, 1986.Challenger flag
The Challenger flag is an American flag that was in the flight kit of the disastrous final mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 and was subsequently recovered. It was sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 514 of Monument, Colorado. Their Scoutmaster was William Tolbert, a major in the United States Air Force assigned to the Space Command.Christa McAuliffe
Sharon Christa McAuliffe (née Corrigan; September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986) was an American teacher and astronaut from Concord, New Hampshire and one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
She received her bachelor's degree in education and history from Framingham State College in 1970 and also a master's degree in education, supervision and administration from Bowie State University in 1978. She took a teaching position as a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire in 1983.
In 1985, she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project and was scheduled to become the first teacher in space. As a member of mission STS-51-L, she was planning to conduct experiments and teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986, the shuttle broke apart 73 seconds after launch. After her death, schools and scholarships were named in her honor, and in 2004 she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.Dick Scobee
Francis Richard Scobee (May 19, 1939 – January 28, 1986) was an American pilot, engineer and astronaut. He was killed commanding the Space Shuttle Challenger, which suffered catastrophic booster failure during launch of the STS-51-L mission.He held a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was a reciprocating engine mechanic for the United States Air Force and served as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War.
In April 1984, he piloted Challenger mission STS-41-C, which successfully deployed one satellite and repaired another. Selected for NASA Astronaut Corps in January 1978, Scobee completed his training in August 1979. While awaiting his first orbital spaceflight mission, he served as an instructor pilot for the Shuttle's 747 carrier aircraft.Ellison Onizuka
Ellison Shoji Onizuka (エリソン・ショージ・オニヅカ, 鬼塚 承次, Onizuka Shōji, June 24, 1946 – January 28, 1986) was an American astronaut and engineer from Kealakekua, Hawaii, who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C. He died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, on which he was serving as Mission Specialist for mission STS-51-L. He was the first Asian American and the first person of Japanese ancestry to reach space.Gregory Jarvis
Gregory Bruce Jarvis (August 24, 1944 – January 28, 1986) was an American engineer who died during the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L, where he was serving as payload specialist for Hughes Aircraft.Rogers Commission Report
The Rogers Commission Report was created by a Presidential Commission charged with investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster during its 10th mission, STS-51-L. The report, released and submitted to President Ronald Reagan on 9 June 1986, both determined the cause of the disaster that took place 73 seconds after liftoff, and urged NASA to improve and install new safety features on the shuttles and in its organizational handling of future missions.Ronald McNair
Ronald Erwin McNair (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was an American NASA astronaut and physicist. He died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L, in which he was serving as one of three mission specialists in a crew of seven.
In 1976, he received a Ph.D. degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the guidance of Michael Feld, becoming nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics.
In 1978, McNair was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA astronaut program. He flew on STS-41-B aboard Challenger from February 3 to February 11, 1984, as a mission specialist becoming the second African American and the first Bahá'í to fly in space.
Following this mission, McNair was selected for STS-51-L, which launched on January 28, 1986, and was subsequently killed when Challenger disintegrated nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after liftoff.In 1971, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics, magna cum laude, from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.After graduation from MIT (receiving four honorary doctorates, a score of fellowships and commendations while achieving a 6th degree black belt in taekwondo, he became a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, California. McNair was a member of the Bahá'í Faith.He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and two children. His kids were Joy Charey Mcnair (Daughter) and Reginald Ervin Mcnair (son). McNair was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the 25th mission of the United States Space Shuttle program, the program to carry out routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo; as well as the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger.
Planned as the first Teacher in Space Project in addition to observing Halley's Comet for six days, the mission never flew past orbit; a structural failure during its ascent phase 73 seconds after launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 on January 28, 1986, killed all seven crew members—Commander Dick Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik and Ronald E. McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe—and destroyed the orbiter.
Immediately after the disaster, NASA convened the Rogers Commission to determine the cause of the explosion. The failure of an O-ring seal on the starboard Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) was determined to have caused the shuttle to break-up in flight. Space Shuttle flights were suspended for 32 months while the hazards with the shuttle were addressed. The Space Shuttle program resumed with STS-26, launched two years after the accident.STS-61-A
STS-61-A (also known as D-1) was the 22nd mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. It was a scientific Spacelab mission, funded and directed by West Germany – hence the non-NASA designation of D-1 (for Deutschland-1). STS-61-A was the ninth and final successful flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. STS-61-A holds the current record for the largest crew - eight people - aboard any single spacecraft for the entire period from launch to landing.
The mission carried the NASA/ESA Spacelab module into orbit with 76 scientific experiments on board, and was declared a success. Payload operations were controlled from the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, West Germany, instead of from the regular NASA control centers.STS-61-M
STS-61-M was a proposed Space Shuttle mission, planned for July 1986 but canceled following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (STS-51-L).
Payload was to have been one of the TDRS satellites.Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
On January 28, 1986, the NASA shuttle orbiter mission STS-51-L and the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-99) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members, which consisted of five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist and a civilian school teacher. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:39 a.m. EST (16:39 UTC). The disintegration of the vehicle began after a joint in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The failure was caused by the failure of O-ring seals used in the joint that were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch. The seals' failure caused a breach in the SRB joint, allowing pressurized burning gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB aft field joint attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB's aft field joint attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces broke up the orbiter.
The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation. The exact timing of the death of the crew is unknown; several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft. The shuttle had no escape system, and the impact of the crew compartment at terminal velocity with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable.The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program and the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed by United States President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Rogers Commission found NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes had been key contributing factors to the accident, with the agency violating its own safety rules. NASA managers had known since 1977 that contractor Morton-Thiokol's design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings, but they had failed to address this problem properly. NASA managers also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning, and failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.
Approximately 17 percent of Americans witnessed the launch live because of the presence of high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space. Media coverage of the accident was extensive: one study reported that 85 percent of Americans surveyed had heard the news within an hour of the accident. The Challenger disaster has been used as a case study in many discussions of engineering safety and workplace ethics.TDRS-B
TDRS-B was an American communications satellite, which was to have formed part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. It was destroyed when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launch.Teacher in Space Project
The Teacher in Space Project (TISP) was a NASA program announced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration. The project would carry teachers into space as Payload Specialists (non-astronaut civilians), who would return to their classrooms to share the experience with their students.
NASA cancelled the program in 1990, following the death of its first participant, Christa McAuliffe, in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (STS-51-L) on January 28, 1986. NASA replaced Teachers in Space in 1998 with the Educator Astronaut Project, which required its participants to become astronaut Mission Specialists. The first Educator Astronauts were selected as part of NASA Astronaut Group 19 in 2004.
Barbara Morgan, who was selected as a Mission Specialist as part of NASA Astronaut Group 17 in 1998, has often been incorrectly referred to as an Educator Astronaut. However, she was selected as a Mission Specialist before the Educator Astronaut Project.The Challenger
The Challenger (US title: The Challenger Disaster) is a 2013 TV movie starring William Hurt about Richard Feynman's investigation into the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The film was co-produced by the BBC, the Science Channel, and Open University, and it premiered on 12 May 2013 on BBC2.
It is based on two books:
Feynman, Richard; Feynman, Gweneth; Leighton, Ralph (1988). What Do You Care What Other People Think?. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-02659-0.
McDonald, Allan J; Hansen, James R. Truth, Lies and O-Rings. ISBN 978-0813041933.The film follows Feynman (William Hurt) as he attempts to expose the truth in the disaster.
It aired in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel on November 16, 2013.The Dream Is Alive
The Dream is Alive is an IMAX documentary film, released in June 1985, about NASA's Space Shuttle program. The film was narrated by Walter Cronkite, and directed by Graeme Ferguson.
Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099)
|Operations and Training|
Space Shuttle and Buran-class orbiters
|Policy and history|
(human and robotic)