The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986.
In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, 74 seconds after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All seven astronauts on board were killed, including teacher Christa MacAuliffe, who was to have been the first U.S. civilian in space. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched the explosion on television.
Students will not have first-hand memories of the explosion, so interviewing an adult about the events of that day is one way for students to obtain information while learning more about how to conduct an interview.
In groups or individually, have students interview a parent or another adult on the subject; then, have them share the information they gather. In particular, ask students to consider whether everyone interviewed had the same memories and recollections. Encourage them to hypothesize about possible reasons for the differences.
Alternatively, ask middle or high school students to write about their own recollections of the Columbia disaster from February 2003. Have students compare accounts of the events, again noting differences and possible reasons for those differences. Have students research another historic event from multiple perspectives.
The New York Times Learning Network provides this article about the Challenger disaster that appeared in the Times on the day of the explosion.
This official NASA website offers archives of the 135 space shuttle missions and the ongoing missions of the international space station. Details on space shuttle missions include original launch details, the history of human space flight, and the construction of the shuttle.
This Kennedy Space Center website provides historical information related to the space shuttle program, including mission facts and a reference manual.
In August 2007, Barbara Morgan, who trained with Christa MacAuliffe as back-up candidate for NASA's Teacher in Space program, finally travelled in space as part of the mission STS-118 crew. Read about the mission and Morgan's experience at this NASA page.
NASA and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education shares a video of astronaut-educator Ricky Arnold performing one of McAuliffe’s experiments aboard the International Space Station.