Space tragedy took place over Texas ten years ago today - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Space tragedy took place over Texas ten years ago today

Posted: Updated:
Mourners also plastered the fence outside Johnson Space Center with sings and American flags. (Source: NASA) Mourners also plastered the fence outside Johnson Space Center with sings and American flags. (Source: NASA)
(Source: NASA) (Source: NASA)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Television has brought some of America's finest moments right into people's living rooms  At the same time, viewers have seen some of the country's most tragic events unfold right before their eyes, and one of them happened ten years ago Friday.

Millions of people around the world were watching on the night of July 20, 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. It was NASA's biggest moment since space travel had began earlier in the decade.

But what many people say was NASA's biggest tragedy took place on January 28, 1986, as the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger was being broadcast from the Kennedy Space Center.  Just 73 seconds into the flight, an explosion took place, high in the Florida sky.  

Seven lives were lost, including Christa McAullife, a teacher from New Hampshire.  The explosion happened as her parents and many of her students were watching the launch in person.

Unfortunately, it was not NASA last's accident with the Space Shuttle, the most recent accident took place ten years ago today.

While the Challenger exploded at the very beginning of the flight, the Shuttle Columbia disintegrated only minutes before STS-107 was scheduled to land.  

The accident on February 1, 2003 killed six Americans as well as Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. They were returning home from a 16-day science mission when the shuttle disintegrated, just minutes from landing in Florida.  After crossing from New Mexico into Texas, Mission Control knew something was wrong.

Mission Control continued to try to reach the crew by radio, but there was only silence.

Earlier Friday, NASA officials held a special ceremony to remember the crew members of the Discovery and Challenger.  They also honored three other Astronauts who lost their lives in an accident on the launch pad 46 years ago this week.  Gus Grissom, Robert Chaffee and Edward White died weeks before their scheduled launch after a fire broke out in the command module of Apollo One, on January 27, 1967.

The investigation into the Shuttle Discovery accident found the one of the spacecraft's wings had suffered structural damage during liftoff, two weeks before it crashed.

As a result, the entire shuttle fleet was grounded for two years, but NASA resumed missions for eight more years, before the shuttle program was retired in 2011.

Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow