While Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, its mission continues thanks to an interactive learning center in Manhattan. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
It was in flight for only 73 seconds when something went terribly wrong. On January 28, 1986, shortly after lift-off, the space shuttle Challenger burst apart in a fiery plume of smoke.
All seven crew members were killed, including Christa McAuliffe, the first school teacher NASA selected to send into space. It was a moment in time that shook the nation and now, 25 years later, it remains a powerful memory for the many who witnessed the tragedy unfold on television.
"All of us that remember it will never forget that day and will never forget that crew," said Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall.
Hall talked about the Challenger disaster Friday with a group of fourth graders at the New York City Center for Space Science Education on the Lower East Side.
"I never really heard of them and now that I learned about it I actually feel like I, when I grow up, I want to be a astronaut," said Fourth Grader Steven Sosa.
Part of the Department of Education, the New York City Center for Space Science Education hosts field trips and after school programs. With its sophisticated replica of mission control and an interior of a space shuttle it houses the Challenger Learning Center, one of 48 of its kind around the country.
"The families of the Challenger astronauts founded the Challenger Center to continue the astronaut mission of teaching children about space," said New York City Center for Space Science Education Director Katherine Brown.
In commemoration of the the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, the students were asked to collect data from Haley's comet and send it back to earth, which was the purpose of the Challenger mission.
"My group was the navigation group and we had to find the specific places the comet was," said Fourth Grader Said Jaber.
In an effort to provide space education year round, the center will offer summer camp for the first time this year.
For more details, visit www.nyccsse.org.
For more information on other programs designed to inspire children through science, technology, engineering and math, visit ConnectAMillionMinds.com.