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A cloud of vapor engulfs the space shuttle Challenger in a picture taken on the morning of January 28, 1986. The disaster claimed the lives of all seven astronauts on board, including high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, and brought NASA's human spaceflight program to an abrupt but temporary halt. Now, on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, the story of what exactly happened to Challenger remains clouded by faulty memories and misinformation.
For example, one commonly repeated myth is that Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "The shuttle itself did not explode," said Valerie Neal, space shuttle curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. "I think the origin of that myth is that it looked like an explosion, and the media called it an explosion."
Even NASA officials mistakenly called the event an explosion as the tragedy unfurled. For example, NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt said at the time that "we have a report from the flight dynamics officer that the vehicle has exploded." Investigations would later reveal, however, that what actually happened was much more complicated, curator Neal said.
The space shuttle's external fuel tank had collapsed, releasing all its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. As the chemicals mixed, they ignited to create a giant fireball thousands of feet in the air. The shuttle itself, however, was still intact at this point and still rising, but it was quickly becoming unstable
Another myth—popular perhaps because it is, in a way, comforting—is that Challenger's seven astronauts died instantly when the shuttle "exploded." But the shuttle crew was not blown up, nor did they die when the shuttle broke apart. Although the exact cause of death is unknown, many experts now think the astronauts were alive until the crew cabin hit the Atlantic Ocean at more than 200 miles (321 kilometers) an hour.
A SR-1 variant was also used in the Enterprise and Columbia Space shuttles. The Shuttle seats were fitted for the landing tests at Edwards AFB, and for the first four flights (STS-1, STS-2, STS-3, and STS-4) in orbit. The Shuttle version had a tilting back to position the pilots closer to the instrument panel while the shuttle was on the pad. This seat, with the necessary pressure suit (the shuttle astronauts, SR-71, and U-2 pilots all use David C. Clark suits) is the highest altitude/ highest airspeed rating in current United States service.
Investigations would later reveal, however, that what actually happened was much more complicated, curator Neal said
But the shuttle crew was not blown up, nor did they die when the shuttle broke apart. Although the exact cause of death is unknown, many experts now think the astronauts were alive until the crew cabin hit the Atlantic Ocean at more than 200 miles (321 kilometers) an hour
Originally posted by anon72
Myth 3: Millions Watched on Live TV
Myth 4: Cold Caused the Disaster
Myth 5: Shuttles Now Have Ejection Seats
I do have particular issue and confussion with the last myth (5). While looking for info/pics I came across this site about Space Shuttle seats. What up/ some ATS inside knowledge would be appreciated.
Did you know any of these to be actual Myths? Be honest now!!!
edit on 1/28/2011 by anon72 because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by Arken
They were still alive, after that huge "explosion" or strange event?edit on 28-1-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by Saint Exupery
4.) Cold Caused the Disaster: This one is, IMO, stupid. It's like saying an iceberg didn't cause the Titanic disaster, water coming through holes in the hull caused the disaster. No iceberg, no Titanic disaster. No cold weather, no Challenger disaster.
The three black, plastic-coated fabric bags were unloaded, put first into 30-gallon plastic garbage cans, then into the back of an open-bed U.S. Navy pickup truck. The colonel and the guard were still arguing. What if there were a wreck? Can you imagine? Those garbage cans would go flying and pop open -- the thought was unbearable. There are nightclubs up and down the beachfront highway, A1A, that links Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base, 25 miles to the south. It was now well after midnight, Saturday night. The road was always heavily traveled, and at this hour the standard of driving would not be high. Too bad. The colonel was unswayed. The risk had to be taken. The truck would be less conspicuous, less suspicious-looking, than a helicopter or a more substantial military vehicle, an the whole idea was to avoid the press. And the local examiner. The pickup truck headed out on its 40-minute journey.
On the truck, in the garbage cans, were the bodies of three astronauts from the space shuttle Challenger.
Originally posted by daraSD
I have no idea why NASA went ahead, after all the O-ring warnings... I'm sure (or, I hope) that if they had known what the real outcome would be, they would have done things differently.
(Engineers at Rocketdyne, the manufacturer, estimate the total probability as 1/10,000. Engineers at marshal estimate it as 1/300, while NASA management, to whom these engineers report, claims it is 1/100,000. An independent engineer consulting for NASA thought 1 or 2 per 100 a reasonable estimate.)
It would appear that, for whatever purpose, be it for internal or external consumption, the management of NASA exaggerates the reliability of its product, to the point of fantasy.