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Challenger Mission 51-L

The Challenger shuttle crew of seven astronauts-including the specialties of pilot, aerospace engineers, and scientists-died tragically in the explosion of their spacecraft during the launch of STS 51-L from the Kennedy Space Center about 11:40am, EST, on January 28, 1986. The explosion occurred 73 seconds into the flight as a result of a leak in one of two Solid Rocket Boosters that ignited the main liquid fuel tank. The crew members of the Challenger represented a cross-section of the American population in terms of race, gender, geography, background, and religion. The explosion became one of the most significant events of the 1980s, as billions around the world saw the accident on television and empathized with any one of the several crew members killed. (history.nasa.gov/Biographies/challenger.html)

Challenger Center was founded in April, 1986, by the families of the Challenger Space Shuttle crew. Their diversity, determination and spirit are reflected in our mandate to continue the educational mission of Flight 51-L. Our primary objective is to inspire young people to learn and to explore. We believe exploration is the essence of learning.

Using space as a theme and the power of simulations as a teaching tool, Challenger Center’s programs create an exciting cooperative learning environment that exposes students to the challenges and successes of teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and decision-making.

We have a vision for the future – a global community where today’s students are scientifically literate citizens. In this world, they command their own destinies by using higher order thinking skills, the fun of teamwork and strong communication frameworks. Our vision is not based on wishful thinking, but rather on a realistic assessment of the skills needed for success in the next century.

Challenger Center is recognized as a leader in educational simulation, using the excitement of space exploration in highly acclaimed programs that motivate students to learn, while helping them develop critical life skills.

The educational content of Challenger Center’s programs is structured to support the National Science Education Standards defined by the National Research Council as well as the national standards in mathematics, geography, technology, and language arts. Our programs address the benchmarks outlined in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Project 2061 and are reconciled against the governing standards of the host country when used internationally. Letter to America