It was on January 28, 1986 when the shuttle Challenger, NASA flight 51-L, the twenty-fifth shuttle flight, took off. At lift-off, the temperature at ground level was 36° Fahrenheit, which was 15° Fahrenheit cooler than any previous launch by NASA. It was the Challenger's tenth flight. Take-off had been delayed several times. Finally the shuttle had taken off. The shuttle had climbed high in the sky thirty-five seconds after take-off, and it was getting hit by strong winds. The on board computers were making nonstop changes so the shuttle would stay on course. About eight miles in the air, about seventy-two seconds after take-off, people watched in fear and horror as the shuttle was taken in by a huge fire ball. All the crew members were killed instantly.
Engineers and scientists began trying to find what went wrong almost right away. They studied the film of the take-off. When they studied the film, they noticed a small jet of flame coming from inside the casing for one of the rocket boosters. The flame got bigger and bigger. It started to touch a strut that connected the booster to the big fuel tank attached to the space shuttle. About two or three seconds later, hydrogen began leaking from the gigantic fuel tank. About seventy-two seconds after take-off, the hydrogen caught on fire and the booster swung around. That punctured the fuel tank, which caused a big explosion.
Christa McAuliffe was born September 2, 1948 in Boston,