Space Shuttle Explodes

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The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes during launch. As is the custom with all space launches, video monitors are set up in the National Air and Space Museum for the visitors to witness the launch, and the disaster is witnessed by dozens in the NASM Space Hall. In later weeks the NASM is seen as "a monument to aviation's history of triumph and tragedy," and many film crews chose this site for broadcast. Visitors leave mementos, including a poem taped to the door of the Museum that Director Walter J. Boyne reads at the unveiling of a memorial to the crew, mounted before the Museum's model of the Space Shuttle Columbia.


  • Columbia (Space Shuttle)
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Space Hall (NASM)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 371, Box 5, "The Torch," March 1986, p. 1.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


January 28, 1986


  • Space shuttles
  • Museums
  • Space flight
  • Accidents
  • Space vehicles
  • Museum visitors

Full Record

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