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Aug. 24, 1981: The space shuttle Challenger, right, takes shape during construction at the Rockwell plant in Palmdale. The Enterprise sits on the left.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Aug. 24, 1981: Workers at the Rockwell plant in Palmdale install and test tiles on right wing of the space shuttle Challenger.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Aug. 24, 1981: The Challenger's 60-foot-long cargo bay takes shape during construction at the Rockwell plant in Palmdale.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Jul. 1, 1982: The space shuttle Challenger is moved along a Lancaster street from Rockwell plant in Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Nov. 6, 1985: The space shuttle Challenger is reflected by heat waves just before it comes to a stop during landing at Edwards Air Force Base.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 1, 1986: Distraught woman is led from memorial for Challenger crew at Kennedy Space Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marsha Traeger / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 30, 1986: A large piece of the space shuttle Challenger is lifted off the Coast Guard cutter Dallas at Port Canaveral.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marsha Traeger / Los Angeles Times

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Space shuttle Challenger

The Challenger was the second operational space shuttle; the first was Columbia. First launched on April 4, 1983, the Challenger completed nine missions. During the Jan. 28, 1986, launch of her 10th mission, Challenger broke apart, killing the seven-member crew.

On Aug. 24, 1981, Times staff photographer George R. Fry visited the Rockwell facility in Palmdale and photographed the construction of the Challenger. Three images — the first three in the above photo gallery — from that shoot were published on Sept. 30, 1981, as a stand-alone photo package.

Following the Challenger explosion, former Times staff photographer Marsha Traeger went to Florida to cover the aftermath. Two of her images are in the above eight-image gallery.

Additional NASA images of the Challenger are in this Space Shuttle 1972-2011 gallery.

1 Comment

  1. July 28, 2014, 5:05 am

    The Challenger was the second operational space shuttle; the first was Columbia. First launched on April 4, 1983, the Challenger completed nine missions. During the Jan. 28, 1986, launch of her 10th mission, Challenger broke apart, killing the seven-member crew. Accordion Shutters West Palm Beach

    By: Jhon

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