It’s January 1986 in eastern Florida, and the Challenger space shuttle is preparing to launch. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Brigham City, Utah, engineer Bob Ebeling is begging officials to keep the mission on the ground. But Ebeling’s warnings go unheeded – and the tragic consequences still haunt the nation to this day.
Almost two decades before this fateful chain of events, the United States had rejoiced as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s first steps on the surface of the Moon. And having won the race to reach our closest astronomical neighbor, America took its place at the forefront of space travel – a position in which it has remained ever since.
Meanwhile, just before the Moon landings, NASA had begun exploring the idea of a space shuttle – a reusable craft designed to complete multiple manned missions. And then in 1972 officials launched the program. As President Richard Nixon explained in a speech that same year, the endeavor aimed to “transform the space frontier.”