WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off on the morning of January 28, 1986 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. But 73 seconds into the flight something went terribly wrong.
The shuttle exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, killing 7 crew members, including Payload Specialist and Concord, New Hampshire High School teacher Christa McAuliffe.
“I remember watching it all happen, it was just bizarre when it happened nobody knew what was going on and they kinda cheered a little bit when it exploded. So sitting there it took a little while for the shock to wear in,” said Chuck Kelly of Westfield.
“I was in my vehicle and I heard about it and as soon as I got in the house and I told my wife have you heard about this and we turned on the TV and the whole day was virtually spent covering the disaster,” said Robert Derby of West Springfield.
The morning of the launch, the temperature had dropped down to 18 degrees which was much lower than the 40 degree limit recommended for the O-Rings.
A commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan found that NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making processes had been key contributing factors to the shuttle accident.
On February 1st, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. Seven astronauts also died in that disaster.