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Christa McAuliffe training in free fall on a KC-135 aircraft flight. This free fall flight involves flying the aircraft in a parabolic trajectory to simulate the free fall conditions found in Earth orbit. Each period of free fall lasts about 25 seconds, and each flight includes 40 to 80 parabolas. Christa McAuliffe was the Teacher in Space participant on board space shuttle Challenger during mission STS-51L. Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off from Kennedy Space Centre on 28 January 1986. The explosion occurred as a result of a failure of one of the O-rings in a seal on one of the booster rockets. A subsequent leakage of fuel triggered the explosion that killed all seven crew members.
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