Old Newspapers: Challenger Disaster in Headlines

This is probably the last newspaper post for a while, I grabbed a few scans knowing that the Challenger anniversary is coming up in a few days. As much as I like doing this and can endlessly go on with the newspaper clips, I imagine it’s not as exciting for the rest of you.

I vaguely remember seeing the news about the crash on the Soviet TV, but I think my reaction was similar to most people’s who are watching something bad happen at another part of the world, not nearly as horrifying as people experienced here watching it live.

Two things that struck me – even in the worst days the newspapers never stop printing ads, its strange to see the account of a national tragedy juxtaposed with a shoe clearance ad; also Lee Judge’s cartoons always sucked.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB’s aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.
The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation. Although the exact timing of the death of the crew is unknown, several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft. However, the shuttle had no escape system and the astronauts did not survive the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface.

  • As you can probably imagine, at supersonic speeds, an escape hatch does not help. 

    Anyway, when I was younger, the entire school was watching the liftoff of the shuttle — with the anticipation of watching school lessons delivered via space in days to follow or some such. After the explosion, they gently moved all students back to the classroom, and tried to move on with the day.