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.