CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- January 28th, 1986 was one of the darkest days for the NASA shuttle program as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven aboard.
Five astronauts, one payload specialist, and one civilian school teacher were on board when an explosion caused by a failed O-ring caused the spacecraft to disintegrate over the Atlantic Ocean.
The disaster forced the shuttle program to shut down for more than two and a half years while an investigation and shuttle design changes were made.
NASA has planned a Day of Remembrance on Thursday to pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and other senior officials will lead an observance at Arlington National Cemetery. At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial.
Observations will also take place at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
The crew of Challenger included Commander Francis R. Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialists Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, and Judith Resnik, payload specialist Gregory Jarvis, and New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe.