In the aftermath of the Challenger crew on the STS-51L mission disappearing shortly after take-off 25 years ago on January 28 1986, the families of the victims founded a number of Challenger Learning Centres to continue the “educational mission” of their attempt to enter space.
© NASA Johnson Space Center
Aiming to nourish long-term interest in maths, science and technology, each Center contains a simulated environment, where visitors take on roles within a Mission Control and Space Station.
The National Space Centre has the only UK version of the Center – the only one outside of North America – so the anniversary of the tragedy is an important landmark for the venue.
“We work closely with both NASA and the Challenger Learning Centre charity, and we’ll be remembering this great loss,” says the Space Centre’s Malika Andress.
“But at the same time we’ll be celebrating the lives of the crew and the work they have left behind that we help to continue.”
The hugely popular Centre is openings its doors after dark on January 28, inviting children to test their talents of co-operation, problem solving and decision making inside the portal.
“We have more than 100 children joining us for a sleepover,” explains Andress.
“We want them to see Challenger as an inspiration to this next generation, not just a horrific disaster.”