Christa McAuliffe was a civilian teacher and payload specialist who died in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986. McAuliffe was selected for the position as part of NASA's Teacher in Space program and would have given video lessons from orbit. A faulty O-ring in one of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters failed shortly after liftoff, destroying the shuttle and killing its crew.Know More
Before becoming an astronaut, McAuliffe had been a middle and high school teacher for 15 years. In order to inspire students to learn more about math and science, President Ronald Reagan initiated a program in 1984 that would select a teacher to fly into space on the shuttle. McAuliffe was selected and underwent astronaut training in 1985 for her flight.
On the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, the extremely cold temperatures at the shuttle launch pad damaged the rubber O-rings that protected the solid rocket boosters during the flight. When the shuttle lifted off, hot gases were able to escape from the damaged joint in the rocket, burning through the external fuel tank and igniting the fuel within. The space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launch, completely destroying the vehicle. There were no survivors.Learn more about Space Travel
Sending humans to Mars is an explicit goal of NASA's Mars exploration program, but it comes second to other goals like finding potential life and understanding the planet's geology. Some sources say that NASA aims to send humans to Mars by 2035, but as of February 2015 NASA's official Mars exploration website does not confirm this. It's likely that budgetary and management challenges have made it difficult for NASA to officially announce this timeline.Full Answer >
SpaceX's Red Dragon is a specially modified version of the company's Dragon space capsule; these modifications make it possible for the Red Dragon to land on Mars. The "red" part of the "Red Dragon" name likely derives from the fact that Mars is known as the red planet.Full Answer >
Space radiation is a hazard to humans in orbit outside the Earth, and it would pose an even bigger threat to astronauts on Mars. The "Red Planet" is closer to the sun and gets much more radiation than Earth, which could theoretically be deadly for Mars astronauts. Still, experts aren't certain as to how this radiation would affect humans.Full Answer >
China has announced a theoretical plan to mine the moon for minerals and other scarce natural resources, but some experts are skeptical that the plan will ever fruition. At the moment, it's still in the research and development phrase.Full Answer >