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CHALLENGER EXPLOSION

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the Challenger shuttle disaster

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WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Monday marks the anniversary of one the most memorable disasters in American history.

On Jan. 28, 1986, the U.S. space shuttle orbiter Challenger exploded shortly after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The seven astronauts aboard the shuttle died.

The shuttle burst into flames just over a minute after takeoff. The nationally televised event quickly turned sideways, as people were trying to figure out what happened.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, severe cold temperatures affected two rubber O-rings that sealed the joint between the two lower segments of the right-hand solid rocket booster. That eventually led to a leak expansion and then an explosion.

Among the seven victims was "teacher-in-space" Christa McAuliffe. She had won a national screening and was supposed to conduct at least two lessons from orbit and then spend the following nine months lecturing students across the country. The other victims were Cmdr. Francis (Dick) Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, mission specialists Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik and Ronald McNair, and Hughes Aircraft engineer Gregory Jarvis.

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