Tuesday marks 34th anniversary of Challenger space shuttle disaster

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Space Shuttle Challenger_103595

FILE – In this Jan. 28, 1986 file photo, the space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver, File)

TAMPA (WFLA) — Tuesday marks a sad anniversary in U.S. history, 33 years ago today the American space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff in Cape Canaveral.

The 1986 disaster took the lives of seven astronauts, including the most high profile crew member, 37-year-old teacher Christa McAuliffe of Concord, New Hampshire, who won a spot through NASA’s Teacher in Space program.

The cause of the accident was determined to be due to unusually cold weather on the morning of the launch, with the low temperature causing the failure of two rubber O-rings that sealed the joint between the sections of the rocket booster. The shuttle made nine successful journeys prior to 1986. 

Watch President Ronald Reagan’s speech following the disaster in the above video.

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