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1986 file photo, the space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. AP/Press Association Images
Space Exploration

These 7 days are historically the deadliest in NASA history

On this day in 1986, the shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after launch.

NASA IS REMEMBERING its many astronauts who lost their lives in a series of disasters in the last week of January over the years.

Today, NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency’s annual Day of Remembrance.

Apollo 1

On 27 January 1967, veteran astronaut Gus Grissom, the first American space walker Ed White and Roger Chaffee were sitting atop the launch pad for a pre-launch test when a fire broke out in their Apollo capsule.

All three were killed.

The investigation into the accident led to major design and engineering changes, making the Apollo spacecraft safer for the coming journeys to the moon.

NASA / YouTube


On this day in 1986 (28 January), seven people died on board the Shuttle Challenger, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was suppose to be the first citizen in space.

Just 73 seconds after launch a booster engine failed and caused shuttle to break apart. All members on board lost their lives.

These 7 days are historically the deadliest in NASA history
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  • Challenger

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Challenger

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Challenger

  • Challenger

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Challenger

    Source: AP/Press Association Images

Holy / YouTube


On 1 February 2003, the seven crew members on board the STS-107 mission were due to land after a successful mission. NASA says the crew were just 16 minutes from landing when contact was lost.

columbia Crew of the Columbia mission who died in 2003. NASA NASA

A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re-entry.

The Space Shuttle fleet was grounded for more than two years while safety measures were added.

Day of remembrance 

Today NASA’s Day of Remembrance honours members who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

A ceremony will also be held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and a candle lit vigil will be held at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Video: An asteroid the size of a cruise ship passed over Ireland last night>

Read: Did you know that the US left poo on the moon?

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