Infobox Space mission
mission_name = STS-51-L
shuttle = Challenger
insignia = STS-51-L.svg
crew_members = 7
launch_pad = 39-B
landing = Did not land, destroyed shortly after liftoff
1986-02-0317:12 UTC planned)
duration = 73 seconds
(6 days 34 minutes planned)
orbits = Failed to achieve orbit
(96 planned) | altitude = 150
nautical miles(280 km) (planned)
crew_photo = Challenger flight 51-l crew.jpg
crew_caption = Back row (L-R):
Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik. Front row (L-R): Michael J. Smith, Francis "Dick" Scobee, Ronald McNair.
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American
Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time a civilian had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle "Challenger", which lifted off from Launch Complex 39-B on January 28, 1986from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The mission ended in disaster following the destruction of "Challenger" 73 seconds after lift-off because of the failure of an
O-ringseal on "Challenger" 's right Solid Rocket Booster (SRB). The failure of the seal allowed a blow-torch like flare to impinge upon one of two aft SRB attach struts, which eventually failed, freeing the booster to pivot about its remaining attachment points. Subsequently, the forward part of the booster cylinder impacted the external tank (ET) intertank area, leading to a structural failure of the ET - the core structural component of the entire stack. A rapid burning of liberated propellants ensued. With the structural "backbone" of the stack compromised and breaking up, the SRBs flew off on their own, as did the orbiter, rapidly disintegrating due to the overwhelming aerodynamic forces.Evidence found in the remnants of the crew cabin showed that several of the emergency air supplies (PEAPs) carried by the astronauts had been manually activated, suggesting that the forces during breakup of the orbiter were not inherently fatal and that at least some crew members were alive after the craft broke up.
The tenth mission for "Challenger", STS-51-L was scheduled to deploy the second in a series of
Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, carry out the first flight of the Shuttle-Pointed Tool for Astronomy (SPARTAN-203)/Halley's Comet Experiment Deployable in order to observe Halley's Comet, and carry out several lessons from space as part of the Teacher in Space Projectand Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP). The flight also marked the first American manned mission to involve in-flight fatalities, and the first American manned mission to launch and fail to reach space, the first in the world being Soyuz 18a.
*Francis "Dick" Scobee (2), Commander
*Michael J. Smith (1), Pilot
Judith Resnik(2), Mission Specialist
Ellison Onizuka(2), Mission Specialist
Ronald McNair(2), Mission Specialist
*Gregory Jarvis (1), Payload Specialist
*Sharon Christa McAuliffe (1),
Spaceflight Participant(Teacher in Space)
(1) number of spaceflights each crew member has completed, including this mission.
In the event McAuliffe was disqualified from flight, she would have been replaced by her
NASA-selected backup, Barbara Morgan.
* Deployment of Tracking Data Relay Satellite-B (TDRS-B) with an
Inertial Upper Stagebooster
* Flight of Shuttle-Pointed Tool for Astronomy (SPARTAN-203)/
Halley's CometExperiment Deployable
* Fluid Dynamics Experiment (FDE)
* Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program (CHAMP)
* Phase Partitioning Experiment (PPE)
* Three Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments
* Two lessons for the
Teacher in Space Project(TISP).None of the mission objectives were accomplished.
**"Orbiter Liftoff:" 121 778 kg
**"Orbiter Landing:" 90 584 kg "(planned)"
**"Payload:" 21 937 kg
Perigee: ~285 km "(planned)"
Apogee: ~295 km "(planned)"
Inclination: 28.45° "(planned)"
*Period: ~90.4 min "(planned)"
*Duration: 73 seconds (6 days 0 hours 34 minutes planned)
The STS-51-L crewmembers designed the insignia seen above to represent their participation in
NASA's mission aboard "Challenger", depicted launching from Florida and soaring into space to carry out a variety of goals. Among the prescribed duties of the five astronauts and two payload specialists (represented by the seven stars of the US flag) was observation and photography of Halley's Comet, backdropped against the U.S. flag in the insignia. Surnames of the crewmembers encircle the scene, with the payload specialists being recognized below. Surname of the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, is followed by a symbolic apple.
* Space Shuttle "Challenger" disaster during this mission
* [http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/genindex.htm Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident]
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