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Challenger disaster

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From top to bottom and from left to right: the smoke trail after the Challenger Space Shuttle's explosion; debris of a booster; burned O-rings which could not seal the junction of the segments of a booster; the last takeoff of Challenger; the memorial service held by President Ronald Reagan in honor of the astronauts; the explosion of Challenger 73 seconds after lift-off.

The Challenger disaster is a space accident that occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated during the launch with seven astronauts on board. During the cold morning of that day, Challenger takes off for the twenty-fifth mission of the American Space Shuttle. The day before the launch, a group of engineers predicted a disaster and requested the delay of the flight. However, NASA didn't take their concern seriously, judging the data inconclusive. Unfortunately, that disaster anticipated by specialists became reality: 73 seconds after lift-off, the shuttle exploded under the eyes of many spectators, including families of astronauts. Challenger was destroyed and her entire crew, consisting of seven members including a Teacher in Space Project teacher, was lost in the accident.

The Challenger disaster was experienced as a bolt from the blue around the world. It marked a return to earth because it was the first time in the history of the United States and their space program that astronauts were killed in flight. The media repercussion of the event was enormous. The disaster fueled many debates about technological security and decision-making. NASA interrupted the shuttle program in a situation of serious crisis for three years until the causes were discovered and corrected.

The disaster investigation by the Rogers Commission showed that, because of the engineers' warning, the disaster was perfectly preventable and occurred because of a failure of internal communication, bad decisions, an unrealistic flight schedule, the inadequate weather, the lack of a survival system and more generally because of a failure of the safety culture within NASA.

Despite this disaster, NASA didn't learned all the lessons. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated into the atmosphere killing seven more astronauts. The negligence of NASA were again showed out and the shuttle program was finally stopped in 2011. The losses of Challenger and Columbia have played a determining role in this decision.

The survey required significant technological means. The Challenger explosion is also a financial disaster. In history, Challenger remains the fifth most expensive technology crash with US $ 5.5 billion spent behind the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the sinking of the Prestige tanker in 2002, the Columbia disaster in 2003 and the explosion of Deepwater Horizon in 2010.