7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster

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The flight, and the lost crewmembers, deserve proper recognition and authentic commemoration. Historians, reporters, and every citizen need to take the time this week to remember what really happened, and especially to make sure their memories are as close as humanly possible to what really did happen.

If that happens, here's the way the mission may be remembered:

Few people actually saw the Challenger tragedy unfold live on television.

The shuttle did not explode in the common definition of that word.

The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.

The design of the booster, while possessing flaws subject to improvement, was neither especially dangerous if operated properly, nor the result of political interference.

Replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals was unrelated to the failure.

There were pressures on the flight schedule, but none of any recognizable political origin.

Claims that the disaster was the unavoidable price to be paid for pioneering a new frontier were self-serving rationalizations on the part of those responsible for incompetent engineering management — the disaster should have been avoidable.

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