The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASASpace Shuttle orbiterChallenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members, which included five NASA astronauts and two payload specialists. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC).
Approximately 17 percent of Americans witnessed the launch live because of the presence of Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space. Media coverage of the accident was extensive: one study reported that 85 percent of Americans surveyed had heard the news within an hour of the accident.
Some experts believe most if not all of the crew were alive and possibly conscious during the entire descent until impact with the ocean.
Thereafter, recovery efforts were managed by a Search, Recovery, and Reconstruction team; its aim was to salvage debris that would help in determining the cause of the accident. Sonar, divers, remotely operated submersibles and manned submersibles were all used during the search, which covered an area of 480 nautical miles (890 km), and took place at depths of up to 370 meters (1,210 ft). On March 7, divers from the USS Preserver identified what might be the crew compartment on the ocean floor. The finding, along with discovery of the remains of all seven crew members, was confirmed the next day and on March 9, NASA announced the finding to the press.[37
The remains of the crew that were identifiable were returned to their families on April 29, 1986. Three of the crew members, Judith Resnik, Dick Scobee, and Capt. Michael J. Smith, were buried by their families at Arlington National Cemetery at individual grave sites. Mission Specialist Lt Col Ellison Onizuka was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Unidentified crew remains were buried communally at the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial in Arlington on May 20, 1986.
(“When the Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over a 800 mile stretch of Texas and Louisiana during its re-entry to Earth, it was traveling at over 8,000 MPH. From California to Florida in less than 15 minutes.
All bodies were recovered. ALL. They found enough of the space shuttle to rebuild most of it during their investigation. Compare this to when Flight 93 crashed, there should have been almost 300 tons of debris along with 10 tons of human remains. But they recovered no debris or body parts, whatsoever.”) hmm.
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