Featured Documents of the Month from the National Archives at Boston
Space Shuttle Ice and Frost Inspection, January 28, 1986.
Citation: Photograph of Space Shuttle Ice and Frost Inspection, 01/28/1986; RG 255 Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1903 - 2006,
National Archives Identifier 593693.
On January 28, 1986, at 11:30, A.M. just one minute after lift off, the Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew were destroyed in an explosion. Not long after the accident, President Ronald Reagan ordered an independent commission to investigate. It was found that in cold weather, the O-rings on the Challenger became stiffer and could not return to their normal shape. As the joint rotated, the gap between field joints increased; the O-rings could no longer provide an adequate seal.