In news– NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has recently announced the recovery of debris from the Challenger spaceship that exploded 73 seconds after liftoff killing all seven astronauts aboard 37 years ago.
What was the Challenger space shuttle disaster?
- The spacecraft broke apart on January 28, 1986 after it suffered a major malfunction less than 2 minutes into its flight with investigations revealing freezing temperatures having affected the integrity of O-ring seals in the solid rocket booster segment joints.
- The O-ring seals are used to keep fluids from leaking and components sealed.
- The last Challenger mission, dubbed STS-51L, was commanded by Francis R “Dick” Scobee and piloted by Michael J Smith.
- The mission was given a go-ahead despite concerns raised by some shuttle program employees. Ice had formed on the shuttle amid freezing temperatures as Challenger remained on the launch pad overnight.
- The shuttle mission, which was NASA’s 25th, was supposed to be a six-day mission wherein, the seven-member crew was to deploy a large communications satellite, deploy and retrieve an astronomy payload to study Halley’s Comet.
- The teacher, also the first civilian to head to space, was to conduct lessons for schoolchildren from orbit.
- The primary objective of the STS-51L mission was to launch the second Tracking and Data Relay System (TDRS) satellite into orbit.
The Columbia space shuttle accident-
- Seventeen years later, in 2003, NASA witnessed another catastrophic disaster after Columbia, which was into its 28th and final flight, got lost during the spacecraft’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere on February 1, killing all seven crew members.
- On a 16-day mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16, Columbia conducted a series of international scientific experiments in orbit.
- After completing STS-107, the space shuttle disintegrated as it reentered the atmosphere over Texas.
- It was the fourth human spaceflight program carried out by NASA, which undertook routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo from 1981 to 2011.
- India-born Kalpana Chawla and six other astronauts perished in one of the worst US space mishaps.