Remembering space shuttle Challenger: Five ways it changed spaceflight

Twenty-five years ago Friday, the space shuttle Challenger came to a tragic end, exploding on liftoff and claiming the lives of seven astronauts. Here are five ways the Challenger pushed spaceflight forward.

3. Playing to the public’s interest

Nick Ut/AP Photo
Henry Cruz, lower right, looks at a space shuttle Challenger replica honoring USAF Colonel Ellison Onizuka, the first Japanese American astronaut who died in the Challenger explosion in 1986, at a memorial Wednesday Jan. 26, 2011 in Los Angeles. Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger which killed seven astronauts.

Although early Challenger missions were plagued by budget crisis and delays, the shuttle captured the public’s interest. Its landings drew as many as 100,000 spectators, and in June 1983 about 250,000 people called a special telephone number that let them listen in on the conversation between Challenger’s crew and ground control. Eavesdropping on the shuttle cost 50 cents for the first minute and 30 cents for each additional minute.

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