Just one day after the 19th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, millions watched as Space Shuttle Challenger exploded before our eyes. The cold weather had frozen the solid rocket boosters' rubber O-rings, which subsequently failed to seal the aft field joint and caused a plume leakage. This leak of hot gases breached the external tank and blew the shuttle.
It is believed the crew survived the initial explosion, as the shuttle's crew compartment remained intact long after the blast. But of course this section was without parachutes and so there was nothing to save the crew when they hit the water at high speeds.
I think a lot of people remember STS-51-L more than they remember Apollo 1 because this flight carried the first civilian teacher in space, Shannon Christa McAuliffe. Also, like the Columbia disaster, Challenger's demise happened right before our eyes on live television. The Apollo 1 fire happened behind closed doors.
I can understand people remembering the two fatal shuttle flights more for those reasons, but it is still upsetting to see one fatality overshadowed by another. All seventeen astronauts from each mission, Apollo 1, Challenger and Colmbia, should be remembered equally.
Making sure that no astronaut is left behind, we dedicate this video to the fallen astronauts of Space Shuttle Challenger.
Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee
Michael John Smith
Ellison Shoji Onizuka
Judith Arlene Resnik
Ronald Ervin McNair
Gregory Bruce Jarvis
Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe