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New Hampshire archives

January 29, 2008

Challenger disaster 22 years ago yesterday

CONCORD (AP) - Twenty-two years ago, the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida's skies, killing all seven astronauts including New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

McAuliffe was a Concord High School teacher selected to be the first teacher in space.

On Jan. 28, 1986, rubber O-rings failed soon after launch, allowing flames to leak out and burn through the orange fuel tank. The oxygen and hydrogen fuel exploded and the shuttle never made it into orbit.

Last summer, McAuliffe's backup - Barbara Morgan - finally made it to space aboard the shuttle Endeavor.

After the launch disaster, Morgan returned to teaching. NASA invited her into the astronaut corps in 1998, and she began training as a full-fledged mission specialist.

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., introduced legislation to honor the shuttle crew.

"The crew of the Challenger embodied the goals of the United States space program: a commitment to knowledge of our universe and inspiring a new generation of scientific pioneers," Hodes said.

The resolution will be referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of which Hodes is a member.

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