Space shuttle Atlantis landed for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 21, marking an end to the 30-year era of NASA's space shuttle program, but disasters that occurred in the history of the program still remain on our minds.
On the morning of 28 January 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger, mission 51–L, rose into the cold blue sky over the Cape. Within 73 seconds after liftoff, however, the external tank ruptured, its liquid fuel exploded, and Challenger broke apart. The six astronauts and one school teacher aboard perished.
In 2004, NASA announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars Opportunity rover in honor of the Space Shuttle Challenger's final crew. The area in the vast flatland called Meridiani Planum, where Opportunity landed this weekend, will be called the Challenger Memorial Station.
In another disaster space shuttle Columbia broke apart over northeastern Texas on February 1, 2003, during its return to Earth from a 16-day science mission. All seven astronauts aboard were killed. NASA created the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), which concluded that the tragedy was caused by technical and organizational failures.