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Image of Space Shuttle Challenger's smoke plume

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was a space disaster that occurred at 11:39 a.m. EST on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed. The seal failure caused a flame leak from the solid rocket booster that impinged upon the adjacent external propellant tank. Within seconds, the flame caused structural failure of the external tank, and the orbiter broke up abruptly due to aerodynamic forces. The shuttle was destroyed and all seven crew members were killed. The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program and the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Rogers Commission found that NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes had been a key contributing factor to the accident. The Challenger disaster has been used as a case study in many discussions of engineering safety and workplace ethics and has inspired both a television movie, Challenger, which was made in 1990, and a theatrical movie of the same name, scheduled for release in 2008.