Book Claims 1986 Challenger Crew Likely Survived Initial Explosion, Died During Fall Back to Earth
By Fox News // January 28, 2022
36 YEARS AGO: Challenger lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Jan. 28, 1986
ABOVE VIDEO: 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion: CNN’s live broadcast.
‘The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger’
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (FOX NEWS) – The Space Shuttle Challenger was hurtling through the air at twice the speed of sound when pilot Michael Smith noticed something alarming.
Sitting on the right side of the flight deck, Smith looked out his window and likely saw a flash of vapor or a fire.
“Uh oh,” he said.
Down on the ground at Mission Control, a computer screen indicated falling pressure in the right booster rocket. It was leaking fuel.
As was later learned, the cold of the Florida morning had stiffened the rubber O-rings that held the booster sections together, containing the explosive fuel inside. The rings failed to expand fully in the cold, leaving a gap of less than a millimeter between booster sections.
The breach allowed a few grams of superheated fuel to burn through.
At one minute and 12 seconds after liftoff, the small flame grew, taking only three seconds to penetrate the fuel tank’s aluminum skin.
The tank quickly ruptured, igniting the hydrogen fuel and causing a massive, Hindenburg-like explosion.
The booster rockets separated and kept blasting upward on diverging paths. A little-known Air Force official whose title was range safety officer quickly hit a self-destruct button, causing the boosters to explode and fall into the sea rather than on any populated areas.
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