A fatal incident in the United States space program that occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. The crew consisted of five NASA astronauts, and two payload specialists. The mission carried the designation STS-51-L and was the tenth flight for the Challenger orbiter.

Gray smoke escaping from the right-side solid rocket booster

The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:39 a.m. EST (16:39 UTC). The disintegration of the vehicle began after a joint in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff.

The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation.

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