Special Report

The Most Important Events in NASA's History

Source: Getty Images

36. Challenger explodes
> Date: Jan. 28, 1986

During a launch viewed by millions of people around the world, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven members of its crew — Francis R. (Diсk) Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. The explosion occurred 73 seconds into the flight because of a leak in one of the rocket boosters that ignited the main liquid fuel tank. Following the tragedy, the shuttle program was suspended until September 1988.

Source: NASA

37. Shuttle missions resume
> Date: Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 1988

The shuttle program resumed, with the flight of Discovery, the 26th shuttle flight.

38. Hubble Telescope goes into space
> Date: April 24, 1990-present

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the space shuttle in 1990 to a mission that lasts till today. After its launch, it was discovered that the telescope had a defect narrower than the width of a human hair in one of its mirrors. The flaw, which prevented the telescope from properly focusing and sending clear images, was fixed later by astronauts in a spacewalk. Hubble has made significant discoveries, including images providing evidence of what could be an enormous black hole.

Source: nasacommons / Flickr

39. US woman pilots shuttle
> Date: Feb. 3-11, 1995

The flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery was noteworthy because it was the first shuttle piloted by a woman, Eileen M. Collins.

Source: NASA

40. Is there life on Mars?
> Date: Aug. 7, 1996

NASA scientists announced that they had discovered evidence, though not conclusive, that microscopic life may have once existed on Mars.

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