On the morning of 28 January 1986, NASA lost its first astronauts to an in-space accident when all seven members of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew were lost when a booster engine failed and caused the Challenger to break apart just 73 seconds after launch. Killed in that accident were Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
At least that is what we are lead to believe but in actuality no Challenger crew member ever died on the morning of January 28, 1986.
In fact 6 of the 7 Challenger crew members are still alive; some even kept their names.
- Commander Francis Richard Scobee was 46 when he died in the Challenger explosion. He is now 75 years old and was the CEO of a Chicago marketing-advertising company called Cows in Trees.
- Challenger’s mission specialist Ronald McNair, the second African-American astronaut, with a Ph.D. in physics, is still living at 64 years old.
- Challenger mission specialist, Ellison Onizuka, the first Japanese-American astronaut, is 68 years old today.
- Challenger mission specialist Gregory Jarvis died in 1991.
- Challenger mission specialist Judith Arlene Resnik, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, was suppose to be the first Jewish American astronaut to go into space and the second female American astronaut. She is 66 years old today as aYale law professor.
- Sharon Christa McAuliffe was a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire when she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. She would have been the first teacher in space. McAuliffe is now 66 years old today and an adjunct professor at Syracuse University College of Law.