It was 73 seconds after Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off from its launch pad 25 years ago today that the orbiter exploded, its crew of seven was lost and America's space program changed forever. Space shuttle launches at the time had almost become routine. The Challenger mission renewed interest in the program because America's first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, was a member of the crew.

President Reagan mourned the deaths of McAuliffe, along with Commander Dick Scobee, pilot Michael Smith and mission specialists Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair and Ellison Onizuka, as well as payload specialist Greg Jarvis. Technically, the flawed design in an O-ring on the solid rocket booster caused the explosion on that cold January morning. But a full review of NASA's manned spaceflight program found poor oversight, pressure to launch and warnings that went ignored. Each year, this week is a painful time for NASA. It was January 27th, 1967, when three astronauts were killed while testing the Apollo One capsule. On February 1st, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry. The current space shuttle fleet will be retired later this year.
(from Metro News)