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At 1140 am on January 28 1986 as millions of Americans watched live as the space shuttle Challenger exploded into a ball of fire William Broad New York Times pg23 Just as the Kennedy assassination was the baby boomers disaster this tragedy became 1980s most tragic disaster Everyone knows exactly where they were when they found out and everyone has etched in their minds the image of the explosion The event made everyone question the need for manned space exploration during the 80s So is manned space exploration truly necessary NASA had experienced problems in the past but none measure up to the Challenger explosion There were problems with the original Apollo launch when 3 astronauts were killed in a fire on the launching pad That was the only time astronauts ever died And to America it was excusable for the space program was in its infancy With Apollo 11s landing on the moon people forget about the original Apollo tragedy and faith in NASA was renewed Apollo 13 was a little scary when 3 astronauts were almost lost but the key word here is almost From 1967 until the Challenger disaster NASA has never lost an astronaut The first question on everyones mind was why and how the Challenger exploded This was answered in a highly technical report released four months after the disaster by a Presidential Commission investigating the incident Philip Boffey New York Times pg34 The report concluded that there were two main factors that led to the explosion The first problem was a technical culprit and was easy to deal with America was mature enough to release that there were inherent risks in space exploration America took comfort in knowing that he mechanical problem would be corrected and this would not happen again The second reason the general attitudes and philosophy of NASA were much more difficult to deal with This attitude kept the technical problem from being remedied
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