The early years of the Shuttle Program was punctuated by a tragic event. In 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off when a solid rocket booster (SRB) O-ring seal failed, causing the leakage of pressurized gas and ultimate failure of the SRB and its attachment to the external fuel tank. Challenger was destroyed, killing all seven crew members, including the first civilian passenger to travel aboard a shuttle: school teacher Christa McAuliffe.
Although we are sadly familiar with the pictures of smoke and debris filling the sky over NASA's Kennedy Space Center on that fateful day - one that would mark the suspension of shuttle launches for 3 years - when I saw this rare home video of the disaster, chills ran up my spine.
Shown exclusively by the Huffington Post today, shuttle launch enthusiasts Hope and Steven Virostek were there to watch Challenger launch. Steven, who passed away in the 1990′s, captured the scene with a video camera while Hope talks out of the frame. But excitement quickly turns to horror when Hope realizes something has gone wrong. The full back story of the video's discovery can be found on HuffPo.
Image credit: Tricia Hunt/Huffington Post