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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

On this date: Challenger space shuttle explodes after take-off

It was on this day in 1986 that the space shuttle exploded just 73 seconds into its launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. All seven crewmembers were killed.

IT WAS 26 years ago today that the Challenger space shuttle exploded on its 10th flight shortly after take-off.

The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on 28 January 1986.

It was to have been the tenth mission of the space shuttle, which had been in service for just two years.  One of the crew members, Christa McAuliffe, was a social studies teacher who had been selected from more than 11,000 applicants to become the first teacher in space.

The disaster, broadcast live on television,  is believed to have been caused after a seal in the space shuttle’s right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff, causing the spacecraft to break up and disintegrate. Tragically, just six months before, an engineer working at the company which made the solid rocket boosters wrote a letter raising serious concerns about the safety of the mission.

On this date: Challenger space shuttle explodes after take-off
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  • The Challenger Crew

    Source: STEVE HELBER/AP/Press Association Images
  • The crew of the Challenger

    Source: AP Photo/NASA
  • Shuttle Challenger Liftoff

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • People watching Challenger

    Source: AP Photo/Jim Cole
  • Space Shuttle Challenger

    Source: Thom Baur/AP/Press Association Images
  • The Challenger explodes

    Source: AP Photo/Bruce Weaver
  • Challenger explosion

    Source: AP Photo/NASA
  • Reaction to the Challenger explosion

    Source: AP PHOTO/Middlesex News, Paul Kapteyn
  • Challenger Explosion

    Source: AP PHOTO/Jim Cole
  • Reagan's speech after Challenger

    Source: AP Photo/Dennis Cook
  • Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

    Source: AP Photo/Jim Cole

Here’s the live coverage from CNN from the launch. The news anchor stops talking when the explosion occurs and is clearly confused about what has just happened:



Do you remember the disaster? What was it like to see on television? Let us know in the comments.

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