Challenger disaster remembered

The widow of the commander of the space shuttle Challenger, which exploded after launch 20 years ago laid a wreath of roses and carnations at a memorial honouring the fallen astronauts, miles from the launch pad where the doomed shuttle blew apart.

    Seven astronauts perished in the Challenger disaster

    June Scobee Rodgers, whose husband Dick Scobee had been the shuttle's commander said "Our lives were shattered, but over the years all the families persevered".

    Seven US astronauts died in the explosion in 1986, and the video of the shuttle bursting apart was replayed over and over to a shocked nation.

    On Saturday, 250 people joined a ceremony at Kennedy Space Centre to honour Scobee, pilot Mike Smith, astronauts Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair and Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to be the first teacher in space.

    Challenger exploded soon after
    liftoff in 1986

    Rodgers, along with Nasa associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier, laid the wreath at the base of the Space Mirror Memorial, a tall granite-finished wall engraved with the names of the Challenger astronauts, the seven astronauts killed when space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas in 2003 and the three Apollo 1 astronauts killed in a fire during a 1967 launch pad test.

    Nasa's failure

    The investigation into the Challenger accident revealed a space agency more concerned with schedules and public relations than with safety and sound decision-making.

    The explosion eventually was blamed on a poorly designed gasket in one of the shuttle's solid fuel boosters which hardened in cold weather. The temperature at Challenger's liftoff was 36 degrees (2 degrees Celsius).

    "Without risk, there's no discovery, there's no new knowledge, there's no bold adventure"

    June Scobee Rodgers,
    W

    idow of Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee

      

    Engineers for a Nasa contractor had protested launching at that temperature, but they were overruled by their managers under perceived pressure from the space agency.

    Mrs Rodgers said the Challenger accident hadn't changed her opinion about the importance of space exploration: "It is our responsibility, individually and collectively, to make good decisions". 

    "As engineers, the machines we build can do great things but can also cause great harm."

    "Without risk, there's no discovery, there's no new knowledge, there's no bold adventure," Rodgers said.

    "The greatest risk is to take no risk."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.