The Challenger crew most probably Managed to survive the catastrophic blast just before the space shuttle fell to the planet earth and smashed further into the Atlantic Ocean.
Pilot Michael Smith saw something frightening as the Space Shuttle Challenger slithered into the atmosphere at double the rate of sound. Smith, who was seated in the aircraft on the righthand side, glanced out his windshield and then saw a burst of mist or a bombardment. A digital screen at Mission Control on the earth showed decreasing constraints in the right booster rocket. It had a gasoline leak.
The coolness of the Florida a.m. hardened the rubber O-rings that kept the accelerator pieces jointly, holding the explosive propellant within, as it was later discovered. The rings did not fully Inflate in the cold, departing an mm-wide aperture between booster segments. A few grams of superheated gasoline were able to escape the breach. The tiny flame expanded around 1min 12 sec after takeoff, requiring only 3 seconds to pierce the fuel tank’s metal shell. The tank rapidly burst, sparking the hydrogen fuel and creating a huge explosion similar to the Hindenburg. The booster rockets split off and continued on divergent routes skyward. Range safety officer, a little-known Air Force officer, immediately pressed the self-destruct trigger, forcing the launchers to explode and fall into the sea instead of on any residential areas.
Rows of Ss lined system displays at Houston’s Mission Control and Florida’s Launch Control centers, signaling “static.” The shuttle’s audio, as well as communication, was lost. However, the capsule in which the crew was seated did not detonate. It was expelled from the blast and was unharmed. The brave crew members — Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe — managed to survive the initial disaster and “at first, they were alert and completely aware that anything was happening which is not good,” according to Kevin Cook, author of “The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger,” which is available now from Henry Holt & Co.