How The Challenger Explosion Changed How We Think About The Space Program


Getty Image

Thirty years ago, the space shuttle Challenger exploded over the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after launching. All seven crew members were killed instantly on live television; the view of the space program altered forever less than 20 years after the moon landing, its most triumphant and unifying televised moment.

In an age that predates cell phones and social media, it’s estimated that more than 85 percent of the U.S. had heard about the explosion within an hour of it happening. The significance of this rapid spread of information speaks to the shell-shocked reactions of those who watched the launch. Indeed, the loss of the Challenger was one of those rare, historic moments where everyone remembers exactly where they were when the explosion happened.

Subscribe to UPROXX

Prior to the explosion, 1986 was slated to be the Year of the Shuttle, with NASA scheduling launches almost monthly. However, NASA’s hectic schedule led to scores of technical oversights, as well as “go fever,” a term first coined after the Apollo disaster of 1967, referring to a kind of fast-paced, end-game only methodology where deadlines seemingly mattered more than safety.

Around The Web


How Learning To Play ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Changed My Life

When The Donald Trump Circus Comes To Your Small Town

25 Years Of ‘What About Bob?,’ An Ensemble Masterpiece Disguised As A Bill Murray Vehicle

‘Potato Chip’: The Behind-The-Scenes Story Of The Weirdest ‘SNL’ Sketch Ever

A Beginning Filmmaker’s Guide To Traveling The World Via Film Festivals

Sailing Across An Ocean Will Change Your Life — Here’s What To Know Before You Go

This 28-Year-Old Master Craftsman Has A Knack For Carving Out Works Of Art

By: 05.11.16

Meat Pies And Pubs: Experiencing The Insanity Of A Premier League Match

You’ll Tell Your Grandkids About Steph Curry’s Historic And Unforgettable Performance In Game 4

The Story Of Frybread — From Cheap Staple To Cultural Touchstone

A Fact-Soaked Odyssey Through Kentucky’s Bourbon Country

This Woman Is Fighting The Stigma Of Sex Work In America In Hopes Of Getting Her Child Back

‘We Went To The Moon In 1969’: How The ‘Even Stevens’ Musical Episode Changed The Disney Channel Forever

Is There More To The Adam Walsh Story?

‘Rad’ Star Bill Allen Looks Back On Helltrack And That Iconic BMX Prom Scene, 30 Years Later

A Firsthand Account Of The Earthquakes In Ecuador And The Aftermath

By: 04.21.16

A Look Inside The Final Days Of Extreme Championship Wrestling, 15 Years Later

‘Parking Lot Puddles’ — One Man’s Fight With Addiction