With all of the successes of NASA, there have been tragedies as well. A fire on the launch pad took the lives of the three-man crew in the Apollo I capsule in 1967. Nineteen years later, an explosion 73 seconds after the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger killed the entire crew. During its landing descent to Kennedy Space Center, February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia exploded killing the entire seven-member crew.
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Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off Pad 30B, with a crew of seven astronauts. An accident 73 seconds after liftoff claimed both the crew and vehicle. January 23, 1986.
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A formation-flying trio of NASA T-38 jet trainer aircraft is photographed by a fourth member as the four jets overfly the San Jacinto monument area.
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Astronaut David M. Brown was born on April 16, 1956. He died on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during entry just 16 minutes prior to the scheduled landing.
After the successful Apollo launches and subsequent change in direction of NASA’s mission and goals, major portions of NASA personnel and members of the area’s space-related workforce left for high-tech and military career opportunities in the Pacific northwest, southern California, and the northeastern states. However, thousands of native Floridians and recruited workers stayed following decades of serving the nation’s drive to explore space.
An entire generation of space-industry workers retired in the space coast area. Other initiatives such as environmental services, including the development of solar energy technology, attracted even more skilled workers to the Space Coast. After five decades of space age development, Florida remains one of the nation’s centers for technology and manufacturing industries, as well as still serving as the home of the world’s most significant space port.