SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER DISASTER
(January 28, 1986 – Cape Canaveral, Florida)
The Official Story
(Payload Specialist, Space Shuttle Challenger)
Gregory Bruce Jarvis (August 24, 1944 – January 28, 1986) was an American engineer and astronaut who died during the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L, where he was serving as payload specialist for Hughes Aircraft.
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
In June 1984, Jarvis was one of two Hughes Aircraft employees selected as candidates for the Space Shuttle program. He planned to conduct experiments regarding the effects of weightlessness on fluids. Jarvis was originally scheduled to make his shuttle flight in April 1985, but his spot on that flight was replaced by U.S. senator Jake Garn. His flight was rescheduled for early January 1986, but he was again replaced – this time by U.S. representative Bill Nelson.
Jarvis was Payload Specialist 2 on STS-51-L which was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38:00 EST on January 28, 1986. The crew on board the Orbiter Challenger included Commander Dick Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith (USN), mission specialists Dr. Ronald McNair, Lt. Col. Ellison Onizuka (USAF), Dr. Judith Resnik, and fellow civilian payload specialist Christa McAuliffe. The entire STS-51-L crew died on January 28, 1986, when Challenger broke up during launch.
The remains of all seven astronauts from the Challenger disaster were discovered in the crew decks on the ocean floor. Jarvis’ body was discovered in the lower mid-deck along with McNair and McAuliffe. During salvage operations to raise the crew deck from the ocean floor, his body escaped from the wreckage, floated to the surface, and disappeared back into the sea. On April 15, 1986, on the last scheduled attempt to recover wreckage, it was rediscovered and returned to shore. Jarvis was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.