Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster remembered after 38 years

challenger Explosion

January 28, 2024 marks 38 years since the space shuttle Challenger lifted off on a chilly Florida morning and passed into history when the ship carrying seven astronauts — one the first “civilian” in space, teacher Christa McAuliffe — broke apart some 73 seconds into its flight.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Linda Preston, who represented Utah in the teacher competition, told a reporter in 2016 about her reaction that day.

“We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers,” President Ronald Reagan said later that day in an address to the nation. “The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.”

NASA also observes a day of remembrance every Jan. 28 for the three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a fire on Jan. 27, 1967, and the crew of the Columbia space shuttle, which exploded and killed seven astronauts on Feb. 1, 2003.

Here is a look back at the Challenger disaster: