On January 28, 1986, the Challenger Space Shuttle broke apart just 73 seconds into its flight. All seven crew members aboard were killed and space travel was changed forever. In this episode of Untold, a new YouTubeLearning series from ACS, PBS, and YouTube, we explain the science behind this tragic, avoidable accident, and what scientists, engineers, and ethicists have learned from it over the last few decades.
For those of you interested in more detail--here’s something else to consider: For a rocket to make it into orbit, its propulsion system needs to be shooting out propellant as it goes, which means its mass will decrease throughout the flight. That steady decrease is important when calculating a rocket’s potential energy. So, if you really want to be accurate, you’ll need to set up an integral.
Eagle-eyed viewers might notice that we used two different units for the acceleration due to gravity: N/kg and m/s^2. A Newton (N) is a kg*m/s^2, so N/kg is the same as m/s^2. Why did we decide to use two different units in the same video? To keep you on your toes. You're welcome.