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 SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER ACCIDENT FBI NASA FILES

SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER ACCIDENT
FBI - NASA - WHITE HOUSE FILES & PHOTOS

6100 pages of material from NASA, the FBI, Rogers Commission, and the White House, related to the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. Materials consist of reports, memos, letters, photographs, diagrams, charts, handwritten notes and more.

Challenger, named after an American Naval research vessel that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's, joined NASA's fleet of reusable winged spaceships in July 1982. It flew nine successful Space Shuttle missions. Space Shuttle Challenger's tenth mission, STS Mission 51-L ended on January 28, 1986. The craft and its seven member crew were lost, 73 seconds after launch, when a booster failure resulted in the breakup of the vehicle. The lost crew consisted of  Commander Dick Scobee, Pilot Mike Smith, Mission specialist Ron McNair, Mission specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist Judy Resnik, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis, and Teacher in Space Participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe.

This Shuttle mission received greater attention, especially in American schools, due to the fact that a Concord, New Hampshire school teacher, Christa McAuliffe was onboard. The launch of a high school teacher as America's first private citizen to fly aboard the Shuttle in NASA's Space Flight Participant Program was promised to open a new chapter in space travel.

The consensus of the commission appointed to investigate the accident and participating investigative agencies, is that the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger was caused by a failure in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor. The specific failure was the destruction of the seals that are intended to prevent hot gases from leaking through the joint during the propellant burn of the rocket motor.

This collection includes:

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER ACCIDENT

5500 pages of searchable text, photos, documents,  charts,  diagrams, flowcharts,  transcripts, handwritten notes, and other material gathered and produced by the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, also known as the Rogers Commission. Following the Challenger disaster, President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order creating the Rogers Commission to investigate the accident. The Commission construed its mandate somewhat broadly to include recommendations on safety matters not necessarily involved in this accident, but which it thought required attention to make future flights safer.

This file consists of material and supporting material taken from two reports; Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident and Report to the President Implementations of the Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. Major areas of coverage in the Rogers Commission Report include: Events leading up to the Challenger Mission; The accident; Causes of the accident; Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster faulty design; documents and memoranda raising design objections and more.


NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA) PHOTOGRAPHS

230 pictures taken by NASA photographers at the Johnson Space Center and the Kennedy Space Center, related to the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. Subject matters include, pre-flight training and preparations, lift-off, problems at lift-off, the disaster, views inside Mission Control during the disaster, pictures of ice on the STS 51-L launch complex, wreckage recovery, photos of the Presidential commission investigating the Challenger accident at work, and the memorial service at Johnson Space Center for the crew of STS 51-L


FBI FILES

180 pages of FBI files covering the Bureau's investigation to determine if sabotage caused the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger.


RONALD REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL PAPERS

31 pages of Ronald Reagan presidential papers. Material maintained by the White House related to the Space Shuttle Challenger.


NASA SPACE SHUTTLE MISSION STS 51L PRESS KIT

Press kit distributed to the media for the ill fated NASA Space Shuttle Mission 51-L. Press Kit includes information about the planned activities of the mission, briefing schedule, the Spartan-Haley mission, the Teacher in Space Project, the Comet Haley Active Monitoring Program, and flight crew biographical data.

challenger1


This memorandum written by Leon Ray and signed by John Q. Miller, strongly questions the clevis joint design. It is the earliest known official document which questions the redundancy of the seal.

challenger2

This internal Marshall note was written by John Q. Miller after the O-ring erosion experience on Space Shuttle Mission STS 41-B (flight 10), indicating concern that the leak check procedures may displace putty ( blow-holes " ) leading to o-ring burning ( "erosion ).

challenger3

View of ice on the STS 51-L launch complex.

challenger4

Picture of Mission Control following evidence that STS 51-L launch phase was not proceeding nominally. Flight Directors Jay H. Greene (right) and Alan L. (Lee) at  their consoles in the flight control room (FCR) of JSC Mission Control Center