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Challenger,U.S. space shuttle. It exploded (Jan. 28, 1986) 73 seconds into its tenth flight, killing all seven crew members, including the first civilian in space, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. The disaster was caused by the faulty design of a gasket (the O-ring seal). As dramatically demonstrated by Richard FeynmanFeynman, Richard Phillips
, 1918–88, American physicist, b. New York City, B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1939, Ph.D. Princeton, 1942. From 1942 to 1945 he worked on the development of the atomic bomb.
..... Click the link for more information. , a member of the presidential commission appointed to investigate the accident, the elastic O-ring did not respond as expected because of the cold temperature (30°F;/-1°C;) at launch time. (At a news conference, Feynman illustrated the loss of elasticity by dropping an O-ring into a glass of cold water.) As a result of the explosion, the United States did not send astronauts into space for almost three years as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration redesigned a number of features of the space shuttle.
a three-masted English corvette with sail rigging and an 885-kilowatt (1200-hp) auxiliary engine. The Challenger was 62.5 m long and had a displacement of 2,300 tons.
The Challenger was refitted in 1872 into an oceanographic vessel for hydrologic, geological, chemical, biological, and meteorological research. Commanded by Captain G. Nares, the Challenger made a round-the-world cruise from 1872 to 1876, carrying an expedition headed by C. W. Thomson. The expedition collected data on the physical and chemical characteristics of the water, on bottom relief, and on the geologic structure of the floor of the world ocean.
The Challenger was the first of the world’s oceanographic vessels. A modern US research vessel used for deep-sea drilling, the Glomar Challenger, was named in honor of the Challenger. Built in 1968, the Glomar Challenger has a 7.36-megawatt (10,000-hp) engine. It is 122 m long, has a displacement of 10,500 tons, and can run at a speed of 12 knots.