The Challenger Astronauts Probably Survived The Initial Explosion
United States Military
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger suffered a catastrophic failure when hot pressurized gas ruptured one of the main fuel tanks, triggering the shuttle's disintegration. It's commonly thought that the crew perished immediately. Unfortunately, there's evidence to suggest otherwise.
Contrary to popular belief, the explosion didn't tear apart the shuttle -- it disintegrated, but it did eject the crew compartment relatively intact. And although it almost certainly depressurized during this, everyone was in a spacesuit equipped with a PEAP, or Personal Egress Air Pack. When salvage teams located these PEAPs (they found four out of a possible seven), they observed that three had been activated. And not by hitting the water -- they were manually activated. Indeed, upon examining the PEAP belonging to Captain Michael Smith, NASA found that a significant portion of the air had been used. Which means that some of the crew were probably alive when they hit the ocean.
NASA If you can call the terrifying realization that you're about to die horribly "being alive."
After this was discovered, there was a considerable effort by NASA to cover up these findings. This was partially born from a desire to spare the crew's families the trauma of realizing that their loved ones didn't die instantly, but NASA may have also wanted to avoid embarrassment by not advertising how ill-prepared they were for a scenario like this. A shuttle disintegrating during launch is bad, there's no doubting that. But if the crew compartment survived that intact, a soft landing or otherwise slowed descent might have saved everyone's lives. If it was something that NASA had anticipated.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Somewhat ironically, we've circled back to hubris, and also a lack of lifeboats.
Though that was hardly the biggest fuckup this time around, considering that NASA had ignored warnings that their shuttle was about to blow up from the guys who made the damned thing. It's really only a matter of time before someone reveals that NASA also ignored warnings that the shuttle's launchpad was located directly on top of an orphanage.
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