How Ronald Reagan explained the Challenger disaster to the world

January 28, 2016 12:34 PM

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Images from Jan. 28, 1986, are seared into the memories of former schoolchildren, teachers, parents, and pretty much any American now older than 30 — the Challenger space shuttle, meant to carry schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe into orbit, reduced to a snaky tunnel of smoke in the sky near Cape Canaveral.

In the years that followed, a lot would come out about a disaster watched in countless classrooms across the nation: about faulty O-rings, about dangerously cold temperatures, and about how five crew members, an engineer and a New Hampshire teacher meant to represent NASA in its finest hour became t...

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