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NASA’s fatal Challenger launch still echoes through the agency today

The day before the Challenger launch disaster, senior NASA official James Beggs made an urgent phone call to the agency’s chief engineer.

Beggs was on temporary leave from his NASA administrator position on Jan. 27, 1986 due to a brief legal matter unrelated to his agency work. While watching pre-launch television coverage of Challenger, Beggs (and many others) spotted icicles on the launch tower. But neither Beggs nor engineer Milt Silveira could get a hold of the launch decision team to stop the countdown.

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