ChallengerChallenger (STA-099, OV-99) was the second of NASA's Space Shuttle orbiters to become operational. Challenger was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's.
Challenger started out as a "high-fidelity structural test article" (STA-099). Originally intended for ground testing only, Challenger was converted into a fully-rated Orbiter Vehicle.
Challenger joined NASA's fleet in July of 1982. It flew nine successful Space Shuttle missions.
On January 28, 1986, the Challenger and its seven-member crew were lost 73 seconds after launch when a booster failure resulted in the breakup of the vehicle.