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The Challenger Disaster Essay

3672 words - 15 pages

This paper discusses the environmental and human decision making factors that were associated with the launching of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. It mentions some details of those on board and why it was widely televised. Shortly after launch, the Shuttle exploded destroying the vehicle and all crew members. The cause and contributing factors that lead to the Challenger tragedy are explored in detail. There is some focus put on NASA's group decision support system (GDSS) discussing their meetings and the decision to launch.Space Travel, is a sense of national pride for many Americans. If you ask anyone who was alive at the time, they could probably tell you exactly where they were when they heard that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon. But all of the success in our space programs is overshadowed by tragedy. On January 28, 1986, one of the worst disasters in our space program's history occurred. Many people were watching at the moment because it was the highly televised space mission. For the first time, a civilian was a member of the crew that was to be shot into space. This civilian was the winner of the "Teacher in Space" contest, Christa McAuliffe. The disaster: the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, (Compton's, 1). The STS 51-L mission was to deploy the second Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and the Spartan Halley's Comet observer. Paramount to this mission was crew member S. Christa McAuliffe - the first Space Shuttle passenger/observer participating in the NASA Teacher in Space Program. Ms. McAuliffe would have conducted live educational broadcasts from the Shuttle and transmitted them to classrooms throughout the world. The loss of life and the unique position that symbolized Christa McAuliffe as the first civilian working as a teacher in space had a profound impact on society and its attitude toward NASA and the U.S. Space programs, (NASA Spacelink Challenger Press Release).Many people thought that disaster couldn't strike because a civilian was on board. But as the whole nation found out, nobody is immortal. By examining this further, we will look at the lives of the seven who died in this dumbfounding calamity, take a look at exactly what went wrong during this fateful mission, and the outcome from this sorrowful occurrence.First, who exactly were those astronauts that died on the Challenger? Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, born in 1948, was the famous winner of the teacher-in-space program, she was a high school teacher at Concord, N. H., a wife, and a mother of two children. She touched the lives of all those she knew and taught. As a school official in Concord said after her death, "To us, she seemed average. But she turned out to be remarkable. She handled success so beautifully." She also wanted everyone to learn more, including herself. Demonstrating her aspirations after entering the space program, she is quoted saying, "What are we doing here? We're reaching for the stars."...

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