Essay on The Space Shuttle Challengeri Disaster

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The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster I On January 28,1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off the launch pad at 1 1:38 A.M., beginning the flight of mission 51-L.' Approximately seventy-four seconds into the flight, the Challenger was engulfed in an explosive burn and all comrnunication and telemetry ceased. Seven brave crewmembers lost their lives. On board the Challenger were Francis R. (Dick) Scobee (commander), Michael John Smith (pilot), Ellison S. Onizuka (mission specialist

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NASA was in a state of disarray, especially in the

management ranks. The agency had been without a permanent administrator for

almost four months. The turnover rate at the upper echelons of management was

significantly high, and there seemed to be a lack of direction from the top down.

Another reason for appointing a Presidential Commission was the visibility

of this mission. This mission had been known as the Teacher in Space mission,

and Christa McAuliffe, a Concord, New Hampshire, schoolteacher, had been selected from a list of over 10,000 applicants. The nation knew the names of all of

the crewmembers on board Challengel: The mission had been highly publicized

for months, stating that Christa McAuliffe would be teaching students from

aboard the Challenger on day four of the mission.

The Presidential Commission consisted of the following members:



William P. Rogers, chairman: Former secretary of state under

President Nixon and attorney general under President Eisenhower.

Neil A. Armstrong, vice chairman: Former astronaut and spacecraft

commander for Apollo 11.

David C. Acheson: Former senior vice president and general counsel,

Communications Satellite Corporation (1967-1974), and a partner in the

law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Dr. Eugene E. Covert: Professor and head, Department of Aeronautics

and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Richard P. Feynman: Physicist and professor of theoretical

physics at
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