Remembering Challenger: NASA's 1st Shuttle Tragedy in Photos

Challenger's STS-51L Crew in the White Room

NASA

On Jan. 28, 1986, NASA faced its first shuttle disaster, the loss of the Challenger orbiter and its seven-astronaut crew. Here, Challenger's last crew – members of the STS-51L mission – stand in the White Room at Pad 39B following the end of a launch dress rehearsal. They are (L to R) Teacher in Space Participant, Sharon "Christa" McAuliffe, Payload Specialist, Gregory Jarvis, Mission Specialist, Judy Resnik, Commander Dick Scobee. Mission Specialist, Ronald McNair, Pilot, Michael Smith and Mission Specialist, Ellison Onizuka.

STS-51L Patch

NASA

STS 51L crew members designed this patch which would have represented their mission. The graphic depicts Challenger launching from Florida with a backdrop of Halley's comet against the U.S. flag. Surnames of the crewmembers complete the patch. The name of the first teacher in space, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, is marked with a symbolic apple.

Zero-g Training

NASA

STS-51L payload specialists appear to float momentarily in a human chain inside the KC-135 aircraft during zero-g training.

Flight Training

NASA

STS-51L crewmembers and backup depart Ellington Air Field following brief flights in NASA's T-38 jet trainers. Pictured (L to R): Barbara R. Morgan, Michael J. Smith, an unidentified visitor, Sharon Christa McAuliffe and Francis R. (Dick) Scobee.

Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan

NASA

Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan, Teacher in Space primary and backup crew members, appear in an official portrait for NASA's Space Shuttle Mission STS-51L. This mission ended in failure when the Challenger orbiter exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1986.

STS-51L Flight Crew Emergency Egress Training

NASA

The STS-51L Challenger flight crew receives emergency egress training in the slide wire baskets. They are (L to R) Mission Specialist, Ronald McNair, Payload Specialist, Gregory Jarvis, Teacher in Space Participant, Christa McAuliffe. Directly behind them are Mission Specialist Judy Resnik and Mission Specialist, Ellison Onizuka.

Christa McAuliffe During Training

NASA

Teacher in Space Participant Christa McAuliffe is seen in an informal pose during training for STS-51L.

Emergency Egress Training

NASA

STS-51L crew members practice emergency egress from the Space Shuttle in JSC's mockup and integration laboratory.

Pre-launch Breakfast

NASA

Crew members of the STS 51-L mission have breakfast on launch morning in the Operations and Checkout Building prior to liftoff of the orbiter Challenger.

Ice on the Pad

NASA

On the day of Space Shuttle Challenger's launch, icicles draped the Kennedy Space Center. The unusually cold weather most likely led to the failure that doomed the mission.

Icicles in Florida

NASA

Icicles formed on the launch pad and service tower in the evening and early morning hours of January 28, 1986. When freezing temperatures were predicted, all water supply lines were left on slow "trickle" to prevent lines from bursting, creating these out-of-place icicles.

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