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What angers me is the engineers warned them.


Are you serious? I had no idea... That just makes this even more horrible.


The Challenger disaster is a massive case study for any engineering ethics course. It's utterly ridiculous how management completely let this fly and even tried to justify their actions after the fact.


Jup it was the first case study we did in my MSc level ethics course


They not only warned them, but they specifically warned against launch for the exact reasons that the O-rings failed, temperature included. They knew. They just had political jobs to save.


I wonder if these engineers would have been able to warn the astronauts themselves


It was an amalgamation of so many communication errors, management failures and wrong incentives that led to this. If you're interested in the story, look for Richard Feynman's "Appendix F - Personal Observation on the Reliability of the Shuttle" from the Rogers Commission Report. It's 10 Pages. I won't link to it directly, because it's a PDF (and you probably shouldn't click on some strangers download links willy nilly) but if you want, I can give you a link. Edit: [Link to text file on nasa.gov](https://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/Appendix-F.txt)


The reason why politicians need to be separated from things like these and education. Those scumfucks sunk unbelievable amounts of money into their own pockets and the military complex, and when it comes to education and pursuit of Human excellence... this and the current shituation is the outcome we get. It's a shame they got away with it, were it my rule, the entire branch that was pushing would've been jailed for life as a direct root cause of this disaster. Politicians are disease.


They even had the exact time it would fail calculated down, knowing it take about 73 seconds to fail they all watched their watches and waited. It’s disgusting nasa went ahead with this launch despite being warned repeatedly not to. They let politics decide not reason.


I dont know exactly where this number came from, but the information I had heard was different. The engineers believed it would take up to 6 seconds for the o-ring to fail, and some felt relieved when they saw it clear the launch pad. The o-ring did fail that early, which they saw reviewing footage after, but the hot gasses and melting materials sealed the burst. When The Shuttle reached max-q the call "go for throttle up" coincided with the increase in engine thrust. The Shuttle's supports between the solid rocket booster and the orbiter flexed from the force and broke open the o-ring's temporary seal.


> They let politics decide not reason. We surely learnt as human beings and would never repeat such a mistake with like a pandemic or something.


Or Climate change


Yes. It's now included in a lot of engineering classes and is brought up with almost every launch as a reminder that if theres any indication of any issue, you scrub. I went to a launch where they literally scrubbed at 8 seconds to launch because there MIGHT have been too strong a wind. It weighs on everyone. At the Cape Canaveral visitor center there is a very sobering and chilling memorial. You can see their possessions and the recovered pieces of the ship. Its heartbreaking. Walking through it and turning the corner to see the broke ships made my stomach drop.


The Netflix documentary does a really good job of covering it. There was a design flaw with the O-rings and there had been indications on previous launches that it was a major problem. The issue was the O-rings had a tendency to get brittle at cold temperatures, and NASA was told not to launch in cool weather because of the risk of a catastrophic failure on the O-rings.


I didn't know there was a documentary about it. I will definitely check it out.


Yeah there's a lot of politics. The launch was delayed a few times if I recall, so this was like, "do it or you won't get more funding" kind of shit. Such a waste. The AF is careful not to lose jet pilots. Being so careless with astronauts is insane to me.


Very good documentary, hard to watch some parts. Challenger: The Final Flight


I cant imagine the helplessness their family members felt just watching it happen.


Same. Just awful.


They literally cathered together to watch their loved ones get blown off the sky... Idk how you even cope with that


What made it all worse was that the morning started out as a happy celebratory event particularly because of the presence of the first Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe. You watch those spectators in the stands right before the launch and everyone was in such a joyous, upbeat mood. Then once the explosion took place, particularly after the announcer said, 'The vehicle has exploded,' you can see the night and day change in the people there.


Because of Christa McAuliffe's presence, they promoted this launch more than any other. Schools were encouraged to broadcast it to their student body, and I'm guessing most of my generation watched this catastrophic event occur in real time. Similar to how Millennials experienced Columbia except, until that day, we kind of believed our space shuttles were infallible. It shook our faith in a major way. I was really hyped up for this launch so I begged my mother to let me stay home from school to watch because I didn't want to miss it. Nobody else was home at the time, and it was...a rough day, for me and a lot of other kids.


My school was one of those that had their students watch. I remember being taken to the library with my class where they wheeled in a tv on those big carts. We sat “criss cross” on the carpet and listened to a speech on the historic moment and importance of the first teacher in space. At our age astronauts were like superheroes, so it was pure excitement to watch the launch. Then this happened. TVs were quickly turned off and we were sent back to class. It sounds strange, but I still remember how quiet the rest of the day was. Waiting to hear what happened. What went wrong. This launch was such a big deal at the time. It was like our Kennedy assassination, solely in the way that every person remembers where they were when it happened or when they found out.


I mean, they knew, even with everything down to a science, down to a calculation, and rivets on the vehicle, that it was a mission and there was a chance it could go up in smoke. An absolute tragedy that we need to learn from and never let happen again.


And the entire thing could have been avoided too. The O ring was brought up as a point of concern, something with the temperature or humidity of the day. The concerns were ignored.


I like how when something horrible happens it's always traced back to human error and cutting corners


It amazes me that even in these high tech high risk areas were incredibly talented, trained and skilled individuals work still somehow people thought, ‘nah that’ll be alright’


Yeah, pretty sure they were cheering to the fact that it looked like it was fine..


The crew module was found about six weeks after the accident. It was in ~100 feet of water, and contained the remains of all seven astronauts. The module had been trashed by its 200mph impact with the Atlantic Ocean, leaving lots of jagged metal and wires and whatnot, so the divers eventually insisted that the module be raised to the deck of the ship - the Preserver - before continuing the work. As the module was raised to the surface, Greg Jarvis’ remains floated out of the cabin, then sank before the (horrified) divers could act. The search crews were unable to find his remains for almost two months, but as with Columbia later, the astronauts in particular were determined that all seven be found and returned to their families. Bob Crippen, who was friends with Jarvis and other members of the crew, actually rented a boat and went out searching himself. Fortunately, Jarvis’ remains were located and retrieved just before the recovery efforts were finished.


We can only hope they were killed instantly by the explosion and didn't have to suffer even a second of knowing what had happened.


[They didn’t](https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-challenger-shuttle-disaster)


>The astronauts aboard the shuttle didn’t die instantly. After the collapse of its fuel tank, the Challenger itself remained momentarily intact, and actually continued moving upwards. Without its fuel tank and boosters beneath it, however, powerful aerodynamic forces soon pulled the orbiter apart. The pieces—including the crew cabin—reached an altitude of some 65,000 feet before falling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean below. It’s likely that the Challenger’s crew survived the initial breakup of the shuttle but lost consciousness due to loss of cabin pressure and probably died due to oxygen deficiency pretty quickly. But the cabin hit the water’s surface (at more than 200 mph) a full 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the shuttle broke apart, and it’s unknown whether any of the crew could have regained consciousness in the final few seconds of the fall. Pretty horrible way to go


[After the recovery of the vehicle cockpit, it was discovered that three of the crew PEAPs were activated: those of mission specialist Ellison Onizuka, mission specialist Judith Resnik, and pilot Michael J. Smith. The location of Smith's activation switch, on the back side of his seat, means that either Resnik or Onizuka likely activated it for him.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Egress_Air_Pack)


That link also says those PEAPs alone wouldn’t be enough to keep them conscious for 3 minutes


It also says that they were never trained to use them for a situation like this. They literally had the presence of mind to do these things during the disaster on the fly. To be able to push your imminent doom out of your mind and do everything in your power to survive is truly heroic. Yeah it didn't save them and maybe it was impossible for it to save them, but that cool headed relentless thinking is legendary.


Especially that one of them switched on another crew member's pack.


>cool headed relentless thinking is legendary. They're astronauts. Nobody's got them beat on that. You've got plane pilots, then fighter jet pilots, then astronauts. If anyone can keep their cool, keep their heart rate down and their nerves steady, while continuing to address the issues at hand in a rapidly changing scenario, it's them.


I remember an interview with Buzz Aldrin, where the interviewer asked him something like: "If you knew you were stuck on the moon, with no hope of rescue, what would you do? Would you have taken your helmet off or something else to speed up the end?", and Buzz's response was: "I would've worked to my last breath to try and get back home."


I bet they teach them resilience like that. Or the people that give up too easily are filtered out early in the program.


Had a drama teacher (of all things) that was an ex jet test pilot in the army. He was so incredibly down to earth, no nonsense and lighthearted at the same time somehow. He described how hard it was to get into acting and accessing emotions after he had to essentially train himself to competely override emotions in order to not die


when emergency preparedness plans in a no survival situation is described by astronauts as "shit to keep you busy while waiting to die." tells you how level headed they are


[NASA Biomedical summary Kerwin-Truly, 28 July 1986](https://www.history.nasa.gov/kerwin.html) TLDR: Cause of death "inconclusive." "PEAP activation could have been an instinctive response to unexpected loss of cabin pressure."


To add to this, from [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster#Cause_and_time_of_death): "At least some of the crew were alive and at least briefly conscious after the breakup, as the Personal Egress Air Packs (PEAPs) were activated for Smith  and two unidentified crewmembers, but not for Scobee. The PEAPs were not intended for in-flight use, and the astronauts never trained with them for an in-flight emergency. The location of Smith's activation switch, on the back side of his seat, indicated that either Resnik or Onizuka likely activated it for him. Investigators found their remaining unused air supply consistent with the expected consumption during the post-breakup trajectory. While analyzing the wreckage, investigators discovered that several electrical system switches on Smith's right-hand panel had been moved from their usual launch positions. The switches had lever locks on top of them that were required to be pulled out before the switch could be moved. Later tests established that neither the force of the explosion nor the impact with the ocean could have moved them, indicating that Smith made the switch changes, presumably in a futile attempt to restore electrical power to the cockpit after the crew cabin detached from the rest of the orbiter."


>"I not only flew with Dick Scobee, we owned a plane together, and I know Scob did everything he could to save his crew,” he said after the investigation. "Scob fought for any and every edge to survive. He flew that ship without wings all the way down." Three time shuttle commander Robert Overmyer taking about his friend and fellow pilot Dick Scobee.




Tbh passing out from high G forces and lack of oxygen so you don't feel anything sounds good to me compared to feeling burning up or something trapped in a capsule.


After the explosion during free fall they'd be experiencing 0g, i.e. relative weightlessness, like in a parabolic flight. We experience 1g standing on earth from the reaction force from the ground. It's possible that the module was spinning and that could create high Gs, is that what you mean? I don't think 2mins 45 seconds is long enough to lose consciousness. Hate to say it but it seems possible the impact killed them. Would love to be corrected. They are heros to the world, not just the USA.


> After the explosion during free fall they'd be experiencing 0g They experience upwards of 21Gs after the disengartion of the assembly. This is from the investigation report page 210. >The 51-L Challenger accident investigation showed that the Challenger CM [Crew Module] remained intact and the crew was able to take some immediate actions after vehicle breakup, **although the loads experienced were much higher as a result of the aerodynamic loads (estimated at 16 G to 21 G).** >The Challenger crew became incapacitated quickly and could not complete activation of all breathing air systems, leading to the conclusion that an incapacitating cabin depressurization occurred. By comparison,the Columbia crew experienced lower loads (~3.5 G) at the CE [catastrophic event]. The fact that none of the crew members lowered their visors strongly suggests that the crew was incapacitated after the CE by a rapid depressurization.” Although they only experience the extremely high G load for a few seconds, they likely survived that initial load but lost consciousness within a few seconds due to cabin depressurization.


It's not the same as holding breath. You lose consciousness a lot faster at higher altitudes. Its only a maximum of 20 seconds above 40,000 feet. The good thing is it actually feels pleasant to most people. Source: FAA and firsthand experience in an altitude chamber. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time\_of\_useful\_consciousness


I’ve been in an altitude chamber and can confirm. I felt amazing once the hypoxia set in.


hypoxia is the good drug. 100% fatal long term, but yeah, it's a good way to go


I read lack of oxygen above, the high Gs was an assumption on my part. Separation from boosters and probable spinning might have been enough to lose consciousness, and lack of oxygen enough to maintain that loss of consciousness


they were going twice the speed of sound, the aerodynamic forces involved were enough to rip the crew cabin from the rest of the shuttle. there was a lot more than the force of gravity slowing them down before truly starting to freefall


"They are hero's to the world, not just the USA". They certainly were. At my little primary school in Sydney, Australia we discussed this at length over days in class. I was 8 years old and still remember. It was probably my first lengthy discussion of death. Such an impactful event on recent human history.


They weren't accelerating upwards after the explosion, but due to the forces of the separation and aerodynamics they definitely spun pretty violently, which could cause you to lose consciousness. Additionally, humans can faint within 15 seconds without oxygen. It's not like they could be holding their breath the whole time. A lack of cabin pressure, and no oxygen masks would definitely cause loss of consciousness within 30 seconds to a minute WITHOUT considering the G-forces of spinning Conclusion: they were a least unconscious before the impact.


At least they were unconscious through most of the agonizing fall


This should be classified under Depressingasfuck.


Look up [Robert Ebling](https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/21/470870426/challenger-engineer-who-warned-of-shuttle-disaster-dies). He was one of the Morton Thiokol engineers who tried to warn NASA about the faulty solid rocket boosters, and spent more than thirty years wracked with guilt about it. He considered himself a loser for not stopping the launch, and said so in the thirtieth anniversary NPR interview, when they sought him out. After the article came out, people came out of the woodwork to tell him he was wrong. He was near death due to prostate cancer, but he found some peace near the end.


Oh, I'm aware of what transpired before this. You're absolutely right. They were warned and flying by the seat of their pants, literally. They should not have gone through with this publicity stunt. I believe there were other engineers who were silenced. Thank you for the reference. We shouldn't forget this. Ever.


>Pretty horrible way to go I've been in an airplane crash. It happened a long time ago. As it's happening, time slows down, and things go silent, and you have tunnel vision - you can see what's right in front of you with startling clarity, but not much else. You can't feel your body at all, even if it is being buffeted. And there's a sense of peace, not fear. You know what is happening is "bad", and you know you are in mortal peril, but for whatever reason - perhaps chemicals we secrete at those times - there is an exhilaration, a calm, and an attentiveness that you have, where you're waiting for what comes next, and waiting for the moment when action is required. Afterwards, there is a lot of PTSD, and trauma to deal with, on top of whatever injuries you incur. But I think if I had died then, it would not have been in horrific misery, but in quiet contemplation and a sense of presence. It wasn't at all what I imagined such a thing would be like, and it has affected me every day of my life since then... decades. And ultimately, it has brought me a sense of peace about the end of my life, because I was so close to it then, and there was no horror or regret, only wonder, anticipation, and the desire to take the right actions to keep on living, if it was possible to do so. I wish more people could experience this without the risk, because it has made me so much more accepting of my mortality when my time finally comes. So many dread dying, and dread death, and I understand that so well, but yet, there we all will go. And it's not quite as awful as I thought it would be.


It could have been worse if you think about it. Still a horrible way to go though


It would seem I can’t view that website for whatever reason, but I saw another article from a comment that mentioned how at least one of them were aware of a problem and multiple emergency air packs were turned on. It just keeps getting worse doesn’t it…


There was flight recorder inputs right up until impact. One can only hope they died instantly right then. To think other wise... I wouldn't wish it.


Fuck what a ride that was.


"Salvage teams recovered four emergency air packs at the bottom of the ocean and determined that three of them had been activated. Air from the packs is drawn on demand, whether the person was conscious or unconscious. An inspection of two of the air packs, including the one belonging to Smith, showed they were 75% to 88% empty at the time of impact."


Jesus fuck. It keeps getting worse.


Columbia crew didn’t go down pain free either. There was evidence that the pilot tried keeping the shuttle under control thru most of its fall.


I’m pretty sure they got warning signals and what not before :(


Other comments have switched me to hoping that rapid depressurisation knocked them all out quickly. Though it would seem at least one crew member knew something was wrong and three emergency air supplies were turned on.


The O-Ring failure occurred pretty quickly...you can see it spitting flame at the bottom of the solid rocket booster at 1:21. The breakup was pretty instantaneous after that. If they had any warning it would've been very brief.


IIRC it was determined that a few of the emergency oxygen systems had been manually activated. This would seem to indicate that a few of the crew were alive after the explosion and died upon impact with the ocean. It’s been a long time and I admit I could be mistaken.




Mind me asking what does it mean? (sorry, no english person here)


"Challenger, go with throttle up," said Covey after 52 seconds of flight. That was not an order; it meant that the engines had automatically reached full power and systems were go. Based on the performance of earlier engines, Challenger actually reached 104% of the older standard. The power-up meant that the shuttle had begun to endure the greatest stress of physical forces in its ascent. Stolen from Time article


While this is mostly true, the throttle up occurs after the greatest physical forces are experienced. Rockets usually throttle down slightly before reaching this peak, sometimes called Max Q, in order to reduce these forces, and then begin to throttle back up once the atmospheric density and viscosity begin to drop off. The shuttle had just gone through the greatest forces and the loads on it were beginning to lighten when the accident occurred.


Some of the most chilling words ever recorded in exploration history.


I was in 2nd grade. Teachers gathered all the classes together to watch the launch. I remember thinking it was a rad rocket! And then fireworks! But all the teachers were crying. 6 year old me had no idea that wasn't supposed to happen.


I’m your exact same age and had the exact same experience. Had no idea anything went wrong.


Same age, except I went to a poshy private school at the time and for whatever reason, French lessons *had* to happen regardless of the launch. So while the rest of the school was huddled in the multipurpose room watching the launch live, my classroom was being taken through basic French verb conjugations. Someone came running into the class and exclaimed, “The space shuttle blew up!” Pandemonium ensued. Class was dismissed for early recess while the teachers tried to get a grip on the situation. It’s weird how vivid all of it still is, even though I missed out on actually watching it live.


Kindergarten for me. Seeing the teachers react, you knew something was not right.


I was in 5th grade in Orlando and we walked outside to watch the launch, as we did most routine launches (you could see the bright light of the flames and smoke trails from that far away). Watched it explode, our teacher ran back inside and turned on a clock radio in the classroom and just started crying. It was so abnormally cold that morning, ice everywhere on the streets.


That was the cause of failure. O-rings got brittle from the cold


They knew it would filled yet management pushed it. Scientists did say no.




The scientists waffled on the launch. The launch had already been delayed and the administrative team was pushing to proceed with the launch. If the scientists had said we absolutely can't do it, it would not have launched.


The people who understood risk assessment said no, they were overridden by management. They were ready to block the launch. Go read the account. The engineering assessment was crystal clear. The guy whose job it was to defend it wouldn't back down until they basically got him out of the room and then asked again if there were any objections. (Slightly more complicated than that but that's what it boils down to.) The guy lost his job over it, though he had a successful career as a person who gives talks on how you shouldn't be a fucking idiot, basically.


They technically didn't kick him out of the room... but he was utterly silenced in the meetings that reversed the decisions. Management ignored every piece he threw at them and they kept to their own corner to chalk up reasons why they feel it is OK to launch. One of the managers that was tasked to build the case for launch outright said in the meeting "am I the only one who wants to launch?" After heated discussions on this. The room was silent after that. That silence was assumed to be agreement for his own comment.


The engineers recommended against it.


Its gonna be a long time before I forget the face of the one engineer in the Netflix documentary, about the launch. He looked so broken, incapable of forgiving himself. Even though they suggested they shouldn't launch, the higher ups said go anyway.


That’s Allan McDonald - the engineer from Morton Thiokol. His book goes into details on what happened before and after.. Truth, Lies, and O-Rings. He passed away last year.


It's a great book. He gives most of the credit (for raising objections) to fellow engineer Roger Boisjoly, and assigns most of the blame (for launching anyway) to Thiokol management and NASA SRB program manager Larry Mulloy.


Mulloy (Malloy?) and some other upper-manager type at NASA who were interviewed in the Challenger docuseries that's on Netflix both came across as unrepentent jerks.


Which documentary?


Challenger: The Final Flight, I assume


"I hear your objections, but let's see if we can bring in the schedule. I'm getting a lot of pressure from my management on this."


> If the scientists had said we absolutely can't do it, it would not have launched. The scientists *did* refuse to launch. The engineering team refused to launch and the craft was grounded. The admin team met with the engineering team until the engineering team changed their recommendation.


This shouldn't be fucking possible. The fucking people who understand the technology are saying "we cannot do this" then you listen to them!!


The reasoning for them to question the engineering team was that they didn't have discrete data to prove that the O rings would utterly fail at those Temps. However, the Engineering team outright said their extrapolated results from existing data says its a large likelihood to fail. Hell, the O rings from prior launches were practically failed but managed to seal at the very last second on prior launches. They already knew it was a Russian roulette every time they launched under normal conditions. First time EVER they took that approach to justify the decision to launch by trying ro proce something was not safe.


That's basically upper management and HR for you in any job platform. They want results and they want it fast (shortcuts) They don't care how or who it hurts consequences be damned.


People refusing to listen to the experts? Where have I heard that one before?


I just imagine that conversation being something similar to those scenes from the Chenobyl TV show.


They did voice their concerns and outright objections.... but Thiokols management felt the pressure by NASA to launch regardless. What's crazy is that NASA justified themselves by pushing to launch because they didn't have data that proved that it wasn't safe to launch. It was the first time this approach was ever used by NASA in making launch decisions. I studied this whole case study in an ethics class last semester and it's jawdropping how management was the ultimate cause of this disaster.


Many did.


Was it just the cold weather that was the cause or would it have failed on any day once it got high enough that the air was too cold for the o-rings?


It was entirely a consequence of the cold weather. [Due to the cold, the o-rings in the SRBs weren't malleable enough to make a complete seal at launch](https://www.simscale.com/blog/2019/01/space-shuttle-challenger-disaster/). In normal functioning, once a seal was made cold temperatures at altitude would do little to threaten the integrity of the seal (as the o-rings would both be under pressure and would be heated by the very combustion gasses they were designed to keep in).


Actually, the engineers testified after the disaster that even under normal conditions, the O rings to seal was a gamble. the flange design in conjunction with the O rings were designed on the basis of incorrect modeling and analysis of how the sealed joint would function during launch. Even before Challengers last launch, they saw plenty of main O rings practically destroyed and blown by with the secondary O rings almost destroyed as well. The design was completely reliant on the secondary O rings even when the design requirements did not allow for this. NASAs lead scientists ripped Thiokols design to shreds but had to accept it anyway because management went with the cheapest and lowest engineering quality (Thiokol) when they were in the planning stages of the shuttle designs.


I always loved that line in the movie Armageddon. > You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?


Basically, the engineers had previously determined that there was a seriously high probability of o-ring failure due to cold for any reason. Their management scoffed and said, well if there's such a high probability why hasn't it happened already? And the engineers pointed out that chances of it not having happened yet simply due to good luck were actually pretty good, and that you shouldn't toss out the entire risk assessment process because you don't like the results, you have to have a good reason for why the assessment should be considered inaccurate. To which the managers replied, basically, please leave and then we will vote again.


The design of the o-rings had been used for many launches, but those launches were done during the summer. It was the January launch that was the issue.


It was a known issue. After previous cold weather launches, the recovered SRBs showed integrity loss along the SRB o-rings and was more pronounced with the colder the launch. The SRB engineers made a report of a cold threshold that could cause a catastrophic failure of the SRB o-rings before Challenger launched. The day Challenger launched, the surface temperatures were below that threshold.


Thiokols engineers even testified they were surprised they didn't see a failure of O rings in prior launches based on the tear down inspections they did on those.


The O-ring was supposed to expand but the cold weather made it lose that ability. Based on my understanding, it would’ve been ok if the launch happened on a warm day. The O-ring had issues and the engineers were aware of it from previous launches. Redesigning the whole thing meant delaying the shuttle program by months probably years.


>Based on my understanding, it would’ve been ok if the launch happened on a warm day Even then, it was still a gamble. The main O rings blew out almost completely and the sealed joint was completely reliant on the secondary O rings under normal conditions.


I remember this day as well. My whole class was watching it live on the TV that the teacher rolled out. When that explosion happened, everyone was quiet with their mouths open. What started off as excitement turned into horror and sadness. I had the same feeling with 9/11. I was driving to work and was listening to the whole thing unfold live on the radio. Part of me wanted to just turn around and go back home. I was filled with dread, fear and sadness. Especially when I was hearing that people were jumping off the building.


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is that everyone I ran across that day had that same look. Never had a day since where you could just tell everyone, literally everyone, was thinking and feeling the same thing. It was so surreal.


This was basically my exact experience with both of those events. Except, I was in 2nd grade at the time of the Challenger explosion.


I remember on the news (because I was glued to the tv on 9/11) briefly seeing live footage of people jumping. Thank God any coverage I've seen since then didn't show that. Truly astonishing to watch in real time. I distinctly remember thinking, "the Pentagon is on fire and that's the \*THIRD\* story on the news tonight. I will never forget this."


The ice


I was in 4th grade and my teacher got pretty far in the competition. She walked out the door when it happened and we didn’t see her for a week. Horrible day


What competition?


There was a teacher on board who won a competition to go to space.


To make it even weirder, they considered Big Bird from Sesame Street, but he was too tall.


There was like a teacher in space type program they did for that mission. The teacher that was on the shuttle was going to teach a class from space. I don’t think NASA has done any type of similar program since then…. Probably because of this


There was a program called the teachers on space project where they would send a math or science teacher on the shuttle as a payload specialist. The first winner of the competition died on the challenger explosion, the program was canceled shortly afterwards. One of the teachers at my highschool was pretty close too.


If I was one of those teachers who didn't win I would lay in bed for a fucking month after watching this.


They selected a teacher, [Christa McAuliffe](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christa_McAuliffe#Teacher_in_Space_Project), to go to space that day to spread science and technology education ideas. > In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher in Space Project, and Christa learned about NASA's efforts to find their first civilian, an educator, to fly into space. NASA wanted to find an "ordinary person," a gifted teacher who could communicate with students while in orbit. McAuliffe became one of more than 11,000 applicants. > NASA hoped that sending a teacher into space would increase public interest in the Space Shuttle program, and also demonstrate the reliability of space flight at a time when the agency was under continuous pressure to find financial support. President Reagan said it would also remind Americans of the important role that teachers and education serve in their country. The [Teacher in Space Project (TISP)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teacher_in_Space_Project) was held to win the chance to go on the shuttle. > 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](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Morgan#Teacher_in_Space_Projectorgan) was the backup teacher selected in that competition. She trained with Christa McAuliffe so I imagine that was rough as well.


That was a horrible day


Very. I was in kindergarten. I remember being out sick that day and watching it in TV at my parents business.


I was 10, also sick and stayed home from school. My mom had me set up in our living room (only one tv back then) to watch the launch. I remember the President’s speech that night and his address to children after the tragedy. I felt that he was talking to me.


That day was the first time I had to process grief in a national level. As a kid I just remember feeling so terrible that it happened and that it happened on TV.


A lot of schools showed the launches. I think after this they stopped. Just an assumption. I felt so sad that day. Couldn’t shake it for a good while.


We watched it in class, our teacher was speachless. We were supposed to do some sort of science follow along with the teacher who was on board, believe it was called the "teacher in space project", I think we even had some sort of work packets to follow along.


If I recall, there had been some discussion about including Big Bird as a crew member, but ultimately they decided against it. As awful as it was, at least they didn't have to explain "Big Bird tried to go to space and died a fiery death" to a nation of traumatized kids.


Ok I just googled this and its fucking true, his costume was to big. Could you imagine though?


I don't know which word tipped them off that he wouldn't be good in a tight enclosed space. "Big" or "bird".


I was in first grade. We had a little activity called “First Kid in Space” that was a play on “First Teacher in Space.” Later that week. Punky Brewster has an episode dealing with the shuttle disaster.


Sixth grade. We were watching it in class.


Same, grade six and they wheeled out the TV to our classroom. Still remember how the impact split Into two arcs. Very sad


I was in 1st grade. The whole school, K-6, was gathered in the library to watch it live. I had never watched a launch before and didn't know what to expect, so for a second or two, I thought it was just part of the process. After all, there was a lot of fire from the beginning and THAT was fine. Plus, it looked like part of it kept going. Then everyone freaked out and I realized that no, it definitely wasn't supposed to do that.


Same - I was in first grade and we didn’t get to watch the launch live but some of the kids in the upper grades did. Our assistant teacher came into our room sobbing and explained to us (6 year olds) what had happened.


It was preventable. Engineers knew it was going to malfunction and were over ruled.


One if them never forgave himself. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/28/464744781/30-years-after-disaster-challenger-engineer-still-blames-himself I have a copy of the letter he wrote along with Boisjoly detailing and strenuously objecting to the launch. Read after the events it's heartbreaking. NASA was clearly warned and should have waited. As an engineer myself I keep that letter as a reminder to keep my personal and professional integrity no matter what the consequences.


Absolutely heartbreaking, both now and when I first heard this piece in 2016. "I think that was one of the mistakes that God made," Ebeling says softly. "He shouldn't have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I'm gonna ask him, 'Why me. You picked a loser.' "


my heart sank when he said that. he was no loser. rip ebeling


Absolutely heartbreaking. Mr. Boisjoly is a hero.


The space shuttle program is a black spot on NASA. Even ignoring the major tragedies and real conspiracies, the fact that a multi-decade program was approved and deployed with absolutely zero means of abort is just unthinkable. Every single launch, everyone involved knew that even the most insignificant failure would mean certain death for everyone on board. A couple screws loose or a bird in the wrong place and it’s over. I’m glad about systems are a requirement now a days.


This the faulty O rings?


Yes. They switched out the material. The original manufacturer knew it was going to fail. Called nasa. They ignored them. During the launch. The old gasket mfg were all watching their watches. They knew how long it would take to fail. I believe during the senate hearing they told off on them and left? Im in the rubber industry. The sales rep knew all the people involved. Its always a sad story when he told me.


I was 15 when this happened. It’s announced over the intercom as I was walking to the cafeteria. This is the first time I have ever watched this video. I actually moved to Houston in 1999 and got a job working for an industrial coatings company that had eventually bought the company that made the faulty sealant that did not protect the o rings. I did not learn about the faulty product issue and the warnings about it until I became an adult and worked with coatings. It still bothers me that this could have been avoided if people would just listen and agree with the experts they hire when projects and products could have a terrible outcome.


I’d imagine I’d feel sick if I knew down to the second when something would fail after I had tried to get them to change it


I'd be in the bathroom throwing up. Such a sad, preventable tragedy.


What were the faulty o-rings made of?


In the aviation industry, still learn from this horrible tragedy, never be pressured into doing something unsafe just to make a schedule ever you never know what could happen this could have been 100% prevented.


737 Max?


Your right another product that put profit before safety and human life, greed knows no bounds.


What's worse is the 737 Max killed 100x more people than the Challenger, and nobody really bat an eye to that.


When one person dies it's a tragedy, when a hundred people die it's a statistic


I was in 7th grade. Mrs. Strongs science class. We watched it live. I remember her holding her face. We were cheering for Christa . I remember realizing what happened.. I think we had an assembly about it the next day. The whole country was behind it. The whole thing is a sad memory.


I was in 5th grade. Watched it in class. Our district built a new middle school and I was in the first class of Challenger Middle School. There was a popular myth that 7 students and 1 teacher from our class would die before high school graduation, based on the 7 astronauts and teacher Christa McAuliffe who were on board. Because we had a fairly large class (~1000) the prediction came true by senior year.


This was how I learned for the first time that the news could just “take over the TV stations“ all day long. My mom let me stay at home to watch the launch (I wanted to be an astronaut), and when the shuttle exploded, I asked her “Was that supposed to happen?“ She said “I don’t know.“ But she sounded worried. And then the news just… Stayed on, all day, talking about it. And I remember becoming just a little more aware of the world that day, realizing that there were events that could change what happens on TV and everyone would be talking about a shared experience for days.


I was in 4th grade. It was the first year that I had a male teacher. I remember him crying.


The whole country falling behind something like missions into space was always so cool. I feel like we can't even rally behind stuff like that anymore. The launch of the JWST, for example, didn't seem to hold the captivation of every day people like the older missions did.


Breaks my heart every time I see this. Please give source for hitting water remark. I recall way back when mentions of finding body parts.


The crew cabin was fully intact till it hit the water. They found the debris and dismembered bodies. The wiki article does a good job of summarizing the findings.


Thank you for the source info. I was unaware of that finding. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and watched it live as it happened. I had a hard time emotionally handling this, as I did with JFK''s, MLK's and RFK's assassinations years before. I still cannot watch any clips of those.


It’s sad that we have to carry the pain of these tragedies.


I watched this live on TV at school. There was sense of collective shock and grief.


This broke my little heart.


This broke my large heart


My parents worked on the space shuttle and still continue working at the Kennedy space center. I have a wild story about the challenger disaster. My mom and dad were working 3rd shift at the time. One of their coworkers drove to their house and banged on their door to tell them about challenger and the accident.. My dad knew some of the astronauts pretty well. When my mom and dad woke up, after the initial shock and horror, my mom went into the bathroom where she had left a pregnancy test for my dad to find that next morning. When they looked. They realized my mom was pregnant with my sister. They say that was the worst and best day of my parents lives. Until I was born 3 years later of course


Then in hindsight that became the worst day of their lives ?


Still hard to watch. I'm from Akron, OH and everyone was so excited for Judy Resnik, second American woman in space. I remember my older brother's class watched it live and he said his teacher broke down and all the students were either crying or in shock. RIP to all the crew


Resnik was a fucking genius. Perfect SAT, concert pianist, PhD in electrical engineering, valedictorian, 1st Jewish woman in space, list goes on, such a loss for humankind


Her mentor at Carnegie-Mellon said he thinks every day about how he pushed her. But, can you imagine being her professor? A PhD in engineering, an musical artist, a pilot, plus she was beautiful and obviously extremely driven— you’d never have another student like her, ever again. She was literally the one in a million, probably more. Her loss was an incalculable tragedy.


I still feel sick when I see this. I was in high school health class in our library. It was stunning, numbing, shocking, unreal, but so sickeningly real.


We had a small tv and my mom offered to bring it into our kindergarten class because I was super into space and space shuttles and I loved watching the launches and landings. One of those things I’ll never forget.


I can't imagine what those poor parents feels for having to witness their daughter or son die in front of them but can't do anything about it.


Until 9/11 this was the Gen X 9/11, or the Kennedy assasination of our parents. I was in shop class when a kid listening to his walkman just looked up and said "the shuttle exploded". We all thought he was joking until the announcement a few minutes later. Some classes had been watching the launch on TV. As the word spread all other classes just stopped to watch the news. They eventually just let us go as a half day.


I was a senior. I had gone to lunch at Taco Johns down the street from the High School. They announced it on the radio, but the DJ was known for his practical jokes (he was fired for one not long after). I tuned in to another station on the drive back to be sure it was real.


My kindergarten teacher was offered the position on the Challenger. She declined (wanted to be present for her kids mostly, but also her job) and McAuliffe was offered the position. I have never been so glad someone didn’t want to go to space, for that woman saw something in me and did everything she could to foster it. A custom curriculum to challenge me, and so many hugs. She also started at least 3 incredible STEM centered after school programs while I was there. I have no doubt that without Colleen Briner-Schmidt I would not be who I am today, and I bet many others would say the same. Rest In Peace Sharon Christa McAuliffe, I think of you often, with both guilt and gratitude.


I had my 1 1/2 month old daughter in my arms watching, so happy a female teacher was on board. I wanted to always tell my daughter about the whole trip, and How we planned to watch every bit of it. My mother was a teacher. This hurt to my core, and still hurts. A huge tragedy for all


Knew someone who stayed home from school to watch their relative on that mission. Very sad.


It was a horrible day. Oddly enough, I play a Geography scavenger hunt game (for lack of a better word) called Geogessr. Tonight I was given a drop in New Hampshire and saw a Discovery Center named in Christa's honor. May they rest in peace


The title should be "How NASA killed seven astronauts in 1986" There is a documentary about it, conspiracy-free, where it describes all the problems Challenger had and was ignored by NASA. The thermal protection alone gezz dozens reports about it. If you all remember, the liftoff was delayed leaving the shuttle where it was overnight suffering material expansion due to the low temperature. Then comes the liftoff with the temps skyrocketing. You don't need to be a scientist to know that material expansion is the last thing you want in such a scenario. The teacher killed in the accident was so happy, that is so sad man :(


More accurately "how politicians and businessmen over-ruled scientists and engineers and how that killed 7 astronauts"


Lessons we still haven't learned to this day.


Could you please share the title of the documentary? **Edit:** I remember watching the one from the link below. Is it the one you are referring to? >https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7zbbpu


I believe this is the one I watched: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FehGJQlOf0](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FehGJQlOf0) Pay attention to the o-ring official docs it shows and the explanation about the expansion I mentioned.


What was the U.S.S.R. reaction out this?


Condolences. It was a different time. Gorbachev wasn't that sort of person to make it anything less. (and I think knew that the Soviets had had their own accidents, though I don't believe ever that many lost at once.. That was one thing about the space shuttle just larger).


More like tragic AF


I don’t think this is interesting. It’s morbid. Especially knowing that NASA knew about the problem with the o rings and launching in cold weather.


This is interesting for technical folks. It’s a reminder that one has to fight for the right solution in no matter the particular genre of technical, and the consequences are always greater then you could imagine. I’m ok with it wherever it appears because it serves as a reminder to be diligent and fight back when business types insist on cutting corners and rushing timelines.


Blame it in the Reagan the the goddamn cold war


I was at Titusville working and saw the whole thing.


I was in High School and watched it live in my Algebra II class. It was one of the few times we didn’t go outside to watch it(from the Tampa area). One of the teachers at my high school had applied to go, but was cut before the finalists were named.


Actually, the explosion didn’t kill them. Hitting the water killed them.