The Coldest Days of the Year in Cape Canaveral, Florida: January 28th, 1986

The Coldest Days of the Year in Cape Canaveral, Florida: January 28th, 1986

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The day of January 28th, 1986, in Cape Canaveral, Florida was by far one of the coldest days of the year. One the launch pad there icicles dangling from the launch tower, pad structure, and other launch equipment as the space shuttle Challenger sat there waiting for its historic launch. For over thirty-eight days Challenger's solid rocket boosters, and external tank were soaked seven inches of rain which had caused a enormous amount of icicles to form.
After nearly a five day delay filled with wind, rain, and freezing temperatures, Challenger was finally ready to go on mission 51-L. It would be the twenty-fifth mission for the world's first fleet of reusable manned spaceships. A spike in public interest in the flight had been caused by the fact that a normal United States citizen was chosen to fly abroad the space shuttle. The lucky person was named Sharon Christa McAuliffe, age 37. She was a high school teacher who had been selected through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) sweepstakes from more than 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. Her job during once in a lifetime experience was to demonstrate and explain the effects of microgravity in the context of Newtonian physics and the scientific, commercial, and industrial applications of space flight. Due to this space flight America was no longer just the exclusive rights of astronauts, scientists, and engineers, but an experience that could be shared by the whole society. Other crew members included spacecraft commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, and Ellison S. Onizuka, and payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis.
On January 28th, 1986, it was the coldest day that ...

... middle of paper ...

...pposite side of the scale an O-ring at 20 degrees F takes 1.9 seconds to seal. It is this difference in time that most likely caused the explosion of the Challenger.
On January 29th, 1986, live national press coverage let even the most rural communities join in and feel like part of the event. Somehow NASA and Christa McAuliffe had created something so wonderful that it felt as if all of the American people joined together as if there was an invisible flow of holding hands nationwide. As NASA looks to the future, finding ways to go higher, faster, and farther, the tragedy of mission 51-L will never be forgotten. The crew of the ill-fated Challenger have staked their claim in the history books and due to the extensive media coverage. It's truly too bad that such a collaborating, heart-felt event had a tragic end that crushed America's social invincibility forever.

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