The Challenger explosion was one of the biggest news events in the 1980s. The explosion occurred on January 28, 1986, and it led many people to question the safety checks that NASA used before shuttles were launched. When officials examined the recorders from the shuttle, they heard one of the pilots say “uh-oh.” This short phrase likely meant that the astronauts knew that there was something wrong. The astronauts were alive after the explosion. The air packs were activated by most of the crew members, and the cabin didn’t depressurize as quickly as officials thought that it would have.
Several students were watching the launch as a way to show support for their teacher, Christa McAuliffe. She wasn’t a trained astronaut but offered education to the space program. After months of investigations, NASA discovered that a seal led to the explosion. Gas that should have been trapped escaped from the rocket booster. The gas essentially made the fuel tank a separate rocket in itself. Freezing temperatures in the area were also part of the reason why the seal failed. There were a few NASA officials who expressed concerns, but the launch wasn’t rescheduled. It would be three years before another launch took place.