NASA remembers disaster of space shuttle Challenger and the crew members who lost their lives supporting NASA's mission of exploration. The space shuttle disaster is being remembered this year on its 25th anniversary. The service of Challenger, which was the first orbiter to launch and land at night on mission STS-8, ended in a tragedy on Jan. 28, 1986.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the loss of Challenger -- a tragedy that caused us to completely re-think our systems and processes as we worked to make the shuttle safer. The nation will never forget Jan. 28, 1986, nor its indelible images. The astronauts in that crew were personal friends of mine, as were the astronauts aboard Columbia when it was lost, NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. said.

The spacecraft, on its 25th shuttle mission, broke apart just 73 seconds after liftoff due to a booster engine failure, resulting in the loss of seven astronauts as well as the vehicle. At 11:38 am EST, its broken parts fell over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida.

The loss of Challenger does not overshadow her legacy in NASA's storied history. The discoveries made on her many successful missions continue to better mankind in space flight and in life on Earth, NASA said in a statement.

The cause of the Challenger disaster was the failure of the pressure seal in the aft field joint of the right Solid Rocket Booster, due to a faulty design unacceptably sensitive to several factors like the effects of temperature, physical dimensions, the character of materials, the effects of reusability, processing and the reaction of the joint to dynamic loading, according to Rogers Commission Report.

NASA's second space shuttle Challenger disaster took lives of seven crew members -- commander Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and also Christa McAuliffe, who was selected to be the first teacher in space.

We remember those who gave their lives for exploration. A wreath is placed at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy, NASA's Kennedy Space Center website tweeted.

Today is a reminder that though we move forward, we never forget. We honor all those who lost their lives in the cause of exploration, NASA's Deputy Administrator Lori Beth Garver said in her Twitter and Facebook pages.

Challenger, which was first called STA-099, was built to serve as a test vehicle for the space shuttle program. But despite its Earth-bound beginnings, STA-099 was destined for space. In early 1979, NASA awarded Space Shuttle orbiter manufacturer Rockwell a contract to convert STA-099 to a space-rated orbiter, OV-099. The vehicle's conversion began late that year.

The second orbiter to join NASA's Space Shuttle fleet, OV-099 arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in July 1982, bearing the name Challenger. The space shuttle orbiter was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870s. The Apollo 17 lunar module also carried the name of Challenger.

On April 4, 1983, Challenger launched on her maiden voyage, STS-6 mission, that saw the first spacewalk of the space shuttle program as well as the deployment of the first satellite in the Tracking and Data Relay System constellation. The orbiter launched the first American woman, Sally Ride, into space on mission STS-7 and was the first to carry two U.S. female astronauts on mission STS 41-G.

Challenger made the first Space Shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center, concluding mission STS 41-B. Spacelabs 2 and 3 flew aboard the ship on missions STS 51-F and STS 51-B, as did the first German-dedicated Spacelab on STS 61-A. A host of scientific experiments and satellite deployments were performed during Challenger's missions.

Challenger's Mission


Launch Date

Mission Information


April 4, 1983

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-1/First Shuttle Space Walk


June 18, 1983

Communications Satellite Launch/First U.S. Women in Space


Aug. 30, 1983

Multipurpose Satellite/First Night Launch and Landing


Feb. 3, 1984

WESTAR-VI, Manned Maneuvering Unit, PALAPA-B2, First KSC Landing


April 6, 1984

Long Duration Exposure Facility deploy, first on-orbit spacecraft repair


Oct. 5, 1984

Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, Office of Space and Terrestrial Applications-3


April 29, 1985

Primary payload was Spacelab-3


July 29, 1985

Primary payload was Spacelab-2


Oct. 30, 1985

D-1 Spacelab Mission (First German Dedicated Spacelab)


Jan. 28, 1986

TDRS-2; SPARTAN-203 Satellites
(Challenger and crew were lost about 73 seconds after liftoff)

(Source: NASA)

On January 28, 1986 at 5 pm EST, U.S. President Ronald Reagan made rather a brief but effective speech. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

On Friday morning, NASA officials gathered at an outdoor memorial at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, to mark the completion of quarter-century since the shuttle exploded, taking the lives of its crew members.

Throughout history, however, we have seen that achieving great things sometimes comes at great cost and we mourn the brave astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of NASA missions throughout the agency’s storied history. We pause to reflect on the tragic loss of the Apollo 1 crew, those who boarded the space shuttle Challenger in search of a brighter future, and the brave souls who perished on the space shuttle Columbia, said U.S. President Barack Obama 25 years later in a speech on NASA's Day of Remembrance.