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On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right Solid Rocket Booster caused an explosion soon after launch. This photograph, taken a few seconds after the accident, shows the Space Shuttle Main Engines and Solid Rocket Booster exhaust plumes entwined around a ball of gas from the External Tank. Because shuttle launches had become almost routine after twenty-four successful missions, those watching the shuttle launch in person and on television found the sight of the explosion especially shocking and difficult to believe until NASA confirmed the accident. Credit: Kennedy Space Center via Wikimedia Commons On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right Solid Rocket Booster caused an explosion soon after launch. This photograph, taken a few seconds after the accident, shows the Space Shuttle Main Engines and Solid Rocket Booster exhaust plumes entwined around a ball of gas from the External Tank. Because shuttle launches had become almost routine after twenty-four successful missions, those watching the shuttle launch in person and on television found the sight of the explosion especially shocking and difficult to believe until NASA confirmed the accident. Credit: Kennedy Space Center via Wikimedia Commons

January 28 is the 35th anniversary of the momentous loss of the space shuttle Challenger. For the general population, it is a cause for pause and reflection on the bravery of seven astronaut—including one schoolteacher—who died in a fiery explosion a few seconds after launch.

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