Background

The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 second after liftoff on January 28th, 1986. The disaster claimed the lives of all seven astronauts on board, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe.1 The details surrounding this disaster were very involved. If you are interested in learning more, watch this 18-minute video documentary on PBS.org. For the purposes of this analysis, it is sufficient to point out that engineers that manufactured the large boosters that launched the rocket were aware of the possible failures that could happen during cold temperatures. They tried to prevent the launch, but were ultimately ignored and disaster ensued.

Data from Previous Launches

The main concern of engineers in launching the Challenger was the evidence that the large O-rings sealing the several sections of the boosters could fail in cold temperatures.