Jack On Thursday, January 27, 2011

On January 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into flight, killing all seven crewmembers on board. It was the first time NASA had lost astronauts during a spaceflight.

Few who were alive 25 years ago can forget that day, nor the iconic footage and photographs of the pale, corkscrewing plumes in the sky where Challenger had just been. The failure of a pressure seal in one of the two solid-rocket boosters was later identified as the cause of the shuttle's breakup.

The disaster must have been especially personal for Charles Bolden, now NASA's chief, who was a member of the astronaut corps at the time. In fact, he had just concluded a shuttle mission 10 days prior to Challenger's launch in 1986. Bolden and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver will honor the Challenger crew as part of NASA's annual Day of Remembrance by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on the morning of January 27. Similar events are planned for Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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