Space Decisions after Challenger

Archive Report

Coping with Disaster

Uncertainty Over Space Problem's Future

Dick Scobee, commander of the ill-fated shuttle Challenger, knew it would happen. “One day one of these things is going to blow up,” he once told a reporter in a private moment.1 It was a gut feeling widely shared by America's elite astronaut corps, and even by those who worked behind the scenes. “Anyone who has had any connection with the shuttle program has felt someday this would come,” said Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, one of America's astronaut heroes.

No one was prepared, however, for the grim eventuality when it struck Jan. 28 at 11:39 on a cloudless south Florida morning. One moment Challenger, the most technologically advanced machine every built, arched toward the heavens as flawlessly as the ...

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