Space shuttle Challenger remembered 34 years after tragedy

Challenger Crew

Tuesday marks 34 years since the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight.

The launch of the challenger had been delayed several times and was scheduled for 16 missions for 1986.

The shuttle finally blasted off at 11:38 in the morning on Jan. 28, 1986.

73 seconds later witnesses began to see a flame move up the side of a fuel tank, then what looked to be an explosion, but was actually the fuel tank collapsing in on itself ripped apart the spacecraft.

The shuttle was traveling at twice the speed of sound and had reached an altitude of 46,000 feet when the incident occurred.

The craft continued its ascent for another 19,000 feet and 25 seconds, reaching an altitude of 65,000 feet.

The shuttle was falling back to earth in pieces, hitting in the Atlantic Ocean at 207 mph, nearly three minutes later.

All seven astronauts were killed.

The Challenger’s team was unique compared to any that came before.

A “civilian” was flying with the crew. Christa McAuliffe was a high school teacher from New Hampshire.

Gregory Jarvis, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Michael Smith, and Dick Scobee were also lost that day.

NASA also observes a day of remembrance every Jan. 28 for the three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a fire on Jan 27, 1967, and the crew of the Columbia space shuttle, which exploded and killed seven astronauts on Feb. 1, 2003.