Expository Essay on The Space Challenger Disaster: History of US Space Program

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The Space Challenger Disaster, which occurred on January 28, 1986, was the awful event ever known in the history of the United States Space Program (Wall, 1). The Challenger burst out after 73 seconds into the flight. In the explosion, seven-crew members died in which for the first time, civilian astronaut Christa McAuliffe was included. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:39 EST. Cold temperatures led to the failure of the two rubber O-rings that had been designed to separate the sections of the rocket booster. The aftermath and sequence of events leading to the challenge disaster attracted extensive media coverage.

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Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Timeline

In 1976, a space shuttle was unveiled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This was the first manned aircraft that could be reused. Five years later, in 1981, the beginning of shuttle flights started with Columbia, which entered into space in a 54-hour mission. The aircraft that they were traveling in was fitted with two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank for replenishments. After the completion of the Columbians mission, they reduced the speed of the shuttle by firing engines. After lowering the speed, they descended through the atmosphere and later landed safely like a glider. Notably, several other early shuttles took satellite equipment into space with the aim of carrying out different scientific experiments. The second shuttle to enter into space was the challenger. In this regard, the shuttle made several voyages from 1983 before the main one in 1986. In this particular year, the shuttle ventured into space carrying a crew of seven members that included one Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire (Disaster, 1). Her inclusion in the shuttle was because of her knowledge in the space program. Therefore, she was airlifted so that he could later on teach students about the experience after the successful completion of the mission. In this regard, if the mission had been successful, she would have become the first ordinary American citizen to ever travel into space. Due to weather and other technicalities, the missions launch was delayed for six days at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, on the morning of the 28th, the engineers warned the explorers that the O-rings were very susceptible to low temperatures. However, their warnings have not been listened to. As such, at approximately 20 minutes to noon, the space challenger took off. After around 70 seconds after takeoff, the people at the airport were shocked as the shuttle broke up and all they could see were fumes of smoke and fire. Millions of people watched on national televisions as the events unfolded. The spacecraft was completely damaged and plunged into the ocean. All crewmembers aboard the challenger died. NASA's program was thus thrown into disarray. For the following two years, no other astronauts were sent into space until 1988 when a successful launching of discovery was done. Indeed, the disaster of the challenger remains in the minds of most Americans who watched as the events unfolded. It was a very sad moment for the US.


Disaster, Remembering. "Challenger Disaster - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.Com". HISTORY.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.

Wall, Mike. "Documentary Probes Challenger Disaster On 30Th Anniversary (Exclusive Video)". Space.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.

Weaver, Bruce. "A Look Back: Challenger Shuttle Disaster". Cbsnews.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.

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