30 October 1985


The Space Shuttle Challenger takes off for on its final successful mission.

Space Shuttle Challenger was the second orbiter of NASA’s space shuttle program to be put into service following Columbia. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International’s Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California. Its maiden flight, STS-6, started on April 4, 1983. It launched and landed nine times before breaking apart 73 seconds into its tenth mission, STS-51-L, on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members, including a civilian school teacher. It was the first of two shuttles to be destroyed in flight, the other being Columbia in 2003. The accident led to a two-and-a-half year grounding of the shuttle fleet; flights resumed in 1988 with STS-26 flown by Discovery. Challenger itself was replaced by Endeavour which was built using structural spares ordered by NASA as part of the construction contracts for Discovery and Atlantis.