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Who were the Challenger Crew members? The real story of the last flight



On January 28, 1986, five astronauts and two payload specialists (including a teacher) boarded the Challenger space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission should be a routine event; The crew would help launch a number of satellites into space. Seventy-three seconds after takeoff, nobody expected the shuttle not only to explode but to kill all of the crew on board.

Challenger: The Last Flight, a new documentary premiering on Netflix, explores the days leading up to the fateful flight. The show features exclusive interviews from family members and archived educational materials to show what happened in the days before and after the tragedy.

Each person on the seven-person crew came to the mission with their own project. From a young New Hampshire high school teacher to one of the first women to ever join NASA, members are known for their courage and inspiring future astronauts. Here̵

7;s a quick look at the crew of seven who tragically died on board the Challenger:

Challenger crew

The members of the Space Shuttle Challenger Mission.

Netflix


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Francis R. Scobee – Commandant

Prior to becoming a pilot on the mission, Scobee received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona and served as a fighter pilot with the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. He joined NASA in January 1978 and had completed all of his training by August 1979. Before the pilot challengerHe also served as a flight instructor for NASA’s 747 carrier aircraft.

Michael J. Smith – pilot

As the Challenger piloted, Smith’s voice was the last on the spacecraft’s recorder. He holds a masters degree in aerospace engineering and later served in the US Navy where he flew 28 different types of aircraft for nearly 5,000 hours during his tenure. Smith joined NASA in 1980 and has been the commander of various programs including the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and the Directorate of Flight Operations.

After his death, Congress posthumously awarded him the rank of captain. In his honor he also received a chair at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Ronald McNair – Mission Specialist

As one of the crew’s mission specialists, who had also grown up at the height of the civil rights movement, McNair was implicated in an incident in which the local, segregated library in Lake City, South Carolina, refused to take him, a young black man, out of The Books that he needed for school in 1959. After the police and his mother showed up to solve the problem, the library eventually let him look through his books, which slightly changed his separated hometown. (The library was later renamed to honor him after the Challenger explosion.)

After completing a PhD in physics at MIT, McNair finally joined NASA in 1978. He had previously flown on a mission aboard the Challenger in 1984, making him the second African American to ever go into space. After his death, his hometown honored him by renaming the local park the Ronald E. McNair Memorial Park.

The space shuttle challenger takes off from a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on January 28, 1986, 72 seconds before its explosion killed the crew of seven challengers, who were 72 seconds in their flight and at a speed of nearly 2,000 mph was traveling at an altitude of ten miles suddenly was envelope in a red, orange and white ball of fire as thousands of tons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen exploded afp photo NASA photo credit should read Bob Pearsonafp via getty images

Bob PearsonGetty Images

Ellison Onizuka – Mission Specialist

Onizuka, another mission specialist, was the first Asian-American (and first person of Japanese descent) to go into space after serving on the space shuttle’s crew discovery After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1970 and served as a flight test engineer and pilot at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California.

Onizuka finally joined NASA in 1978, where he came to SAIL and worked in various teams. After the disaster, it was found that he and his mission specialist Judith Resnik were the only ones who lived for two minutes after the Challenger’s cockpit separated from the rest of the shuttle after using their emergency breathing apparatus called Personal Egress Air Packs (PEAPS) . He was also posthumously promoted to Colonel in the Air Force.

Judith Resnik – Mission Specialist

As the last of the three mission specialists, Resnik was the first American Jew, the second domestic woman, and the fourth woman worldwide to ever fly into space. She was one of only 16 women in the United States who ever achieved a perfect SAT score at the time of her entry into Carnegie Mellon University, where she graduated with an electrical engineering degree. She later received her PhD in the same field from the University of Maryland.

Resnik was hired for NASA in 1978 where she was one of six women out of 8,000 people applying for the job. She ended up having few on the first discovery mission in 1984 where she held up a sign that read “Hi Dad”. During her work at NASA, she worked on the research and development of novel operating software for the future missions of the space agency.

Resnik was posthumously honored with a lunar crater named after her and a dormitory in Carnegie Mellon. Her greatest legacy is the IEEE Judith A. Resnik Award, established in 1986 and given annually to an individual or team who makes outstanding contributions to space technology.

Gregory Jarvis – Payload Specialist

One of two payload specialists for the mission, Jarvis received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from SUNY Buffalo and a master’s in the same field from Northeastern University before joining the US Air Force. After getting a job with Hughes Aircraft, he was one of two candidates to work on NASA’s space shuttle program in 1984.

Upon his death, he was honored with the renaming of the East Engineering Building to SUNY Buffalo (Jarvis Hall) and his hometown school of Mohawk Central High School in Mohawk, NY (Gregory B. Jarvis Middle School). Posthumously he received the Congress Room Medal of Honor in 2004.

Christa McAuliffe – Payload Specialist, Teacher

Another Payload Specialist, McAuliffe was a social science teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire when she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants for NASA’s Teacher in Space project in 1985. She received a bachelor’s degree in history and education from Framingham State College in 1970 and eventually received her master’s degree in education, oversight, and administration from Bowie University in 1978.

In space, McAuliffe planned classes to teach her students from the shuttle. Among the lessons she should give a presentation on space travel entitled “Where we’ve been, where we’re going, why”. After the explosion and her death, she received several posthumous honors. She has two New England buildings named after her (the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire and the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Education and Excellence in Teaching at Framingham State University) and forty schools across the country. In 2017, McAuliffe was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

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