The Challenger launch was nationally televised because of the addition of Christa McAuliffe. Shuttle launches were so commonplace and apparently thought to be so safe that the news media didn’t cover them for the most part anymore. NASA had set high hopes for the Teacher in Space program in that it would revive waning public interest into the program. McAuliffe was subsequently going to give live lessons from space to students on Earth, making it even more important to young children across the nation. No one anticipated or would have even thought the Challenger explosion would take place.
The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion tookl place just 73 seconds into its brief mission 25 years ago today, and traveled the short distance of only 18 miles. The disaster killed seven astronauts and set the Space Shuttle program back two years. It caused changes in the way the rocket booster motors were built at Morton-Thiokol, now ATK Space Systems, in Utah, and forced a complete revision of the way NASA’s decisions to launch were made.
Where were you on this horrible day? It was one to ingrain a terrible vision of the Challenger explosion in the minds of many, including students. I remember the day well, and was deeply saddened at the event, as were most of the rest of us where I was at. I was also angered that better precautions weren’t taken to help prevent the disaster, which was by all means avoidable, as the cold weather was later determined to be a contributing factor.
Mission Highlights (Planned)
The planned orbital activities of the Challenger 51-L mission were as follows:
On Flight Day 1, after arriving into orbit, the crew was to have two periods of scheduled high activity. First they were to check the readiness of the TDRS-B satellite prior to planned deployment. After lunch they were to deploy the satellite and its Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster and to perform a series of separation maneuvers. The first sleep period was scheduled to be eight hours long starting about 18 hours after crew wakeup the morning of launch.
On Flight Day 2, the Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program (CHAMP) experiment was scheduled to begin. Also scheduled were the initial “teacher in space” (TISP) video taping and a firing of the orbital maneuvering engines (OMS) to place the shuttle at the 152-mile orbital altitude from which the Spartan would be deployed.
On Flight Day 3, the crew was to begin pre-deployment preparations on the Spartan and then the satellite was to be deployed using the remote manipulator system (RMS) robot arm. Then the flight crew was to slowly separate from Spartan by 90 miles.
On Flight Day 4, the Challenger was to begin closing on Spartan while Gregory B. Jarvis continued fluid dynamics experiments started on day two and day 3. Live telecasts were also planned to be conducted by Christa McAuliffe.
On Flight Day 5, the crew was to rendezvous with Spartan and use the robot arm to capture the satellite and re-stow it in the payload bay.
On Flight Day 6, re-entry preparations were scheduled. This included flight control checks, test firing of maneuvering jets needed for re-entry, and cabin stowage. A crew news conferences was also scheduled following the lunch period.
On Flight Day 7, the day would have been spent preparing the Space Shuttle for deorbit and entry into the atmosphere. The shuttle was scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center 144 hours and 34 minutes after launch.
The Challenger Explosion memorial ceremony is broadcast live at 9 AM EST at the link below.
NASA TV Daily Schedule: All Times are Eastern Time Zone
January 28, Friday
9 a.m. – Challenger Memorial Ceremony – KSC (All Channels) or here at NASA TV
Our remembrance and honor goes to those brave members of the Challenger Explosion Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster on the 25th anniversary of this tragic event.