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STS-51L Mission Patch


Occurred 38 years ago

STS-51-L would have been the 25th mission of the NASA Space Shuttle program. Tragically, the Challenger and her crew were lost in an explosion 73 seconds after liftoff.  After a lengthy investigation, the cause was determined to be an o-ring failure in the right solid rocket booster aggravated by extreme cold weather in Florida before the launch.

Space Shuttle



25th Space Shuttle Mission


January 28, 1986


10th Flight of Challenger
STS-51L Crew Back Row: Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Payload Specialists Christa McAuliffe and Gregory B. Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Front Row: Pilot Michael J. Smith, Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair.

“We will never forget them… as they… ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’ “

President Ronald Reagan
January 28, 1986


Francis R. Scobee, Commander

Michael J. Smith, Pilot

Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist

Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist

Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist

S. Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space

Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist

History Resources

The Challenger STS-51L Accident

Find reports, transcripts, press releases, and other documentation about the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy.

Learn More about The Challenger STS-51L Accident
A wreath is displayed at the Space Mirror Memorial in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor
A wreath is displayed during a NASA Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
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