CBSN

Effects of the Challenger Tragedy Endure

O rings. Who can forget the commission formed to figure out what caused the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. There was Caltech physicist Richard Feynman demonstrating for all to see that when O rings get cold they get stiff. It was cold the morning Challenger blasted into the sky. The O rings failed. A leak ensued. And all on-board perished. A horrifying reminder that amidst all that technology something as simple as a faulty washer could mean failure. I was in Florida two and half years later when the next shuttle went into space. Standing at the Kennedy Space Center. Feeling the ground rumble as the rockets ignited. We all held our breaths. Our hearts raced as discovery lifted off the launch pad. Would this shuttle surpass the 73 seconds of flight at which Challenger exploded? For years we couldn't look at a shuttle launch without checking the second hand on our watches.

Just a minute, I'm Harry Smith, CBS News.