January 28th marked the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, when one of the rocket boosters separated from the external fuel tank after liftoff and aerodynamic forces tore the shuttle apart. Like millions of Americans, Ethan Siegel and Greg Laden watched the orbiter disintegrate live on TV. Ethan writes that while “we found and fixed the flaws that caused the accident, and returned to space 32 months later with the Space Shuttle Discovery,” we “lost our eagerness for human space exploration in a way that would have been unfathomable 20 years prior.” NASA shifted its priorities from manned spaceflight to scientific investigation, and we have since learned a lot from the likes of Hubble, the Mars rovers, and Cassini. But still we are called to new horizons. In honor of all the trailblazers who have lost their lives in the spirit of human exploration, we pause to remember.
- 25 Years After Challenger on Starts With a Bang!
- Happy Twenty Fifth Anniversary Challenger Explosion on Greg Laden’s Blog