30 years ago today, STS-51-L was the 25th flight of the Space Shuttle program and the disastrous 10th mission of Space Shuttle Challenger. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 28, 1986.
Space Shuttle Challenger launched for the first time on mission STS-6 on April 4, 1983. It launched and landed nine times before breaking apart 73 seconds into its tenth mission STS-51-L.
STS-51-L crew: Front row: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; Back row: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik.
Challenger was originally set to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 14:42 EST on January 22. Delays in the previous mission, STS-61-C caused the launch date to be moved to January 23 and then to January 24. The launch was then rescheduled to January 25 due to bad weather at the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site in Dakar, Senegal. Predictions of unacceptable weather at KSC on January 26 caused the launch to be rescheduled for 09:37 EST on January 27. The launch was yet again delayed the next day, due to problems with the exterior access hatch.
After several days of lengthy delays, challenger finally lifts off at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC) on January 28, 1986.
Her three main engines were ignited at T-6.6 seconds and at T-0 the solid rocket boosters were ignited, lifting the shuttle stack off the launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center.