Nearly 28 years ago, the disastrous Challenger space mission touched the lives of people across the globe, as billions watched the coverage of the launch on live television. The horrific event was terminated quickly when the craft exploded shortly upon take-off.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons so many were forever affected is due to the tragic loss of seven lives that morning, when all of the Challenger‘s crew members were killed, barely a minute into their flight.
One of the many lives touched that day was that of a student watching the live coverage with his classmates at school: fourth-grader Michael Hindes.
Hindes, whose grandfather Bill Rendle had worked for NASA, recently stumbled upon several ground-breaking pictures in his grandfather’s Quincy, Massachusetts attic. Included in those pictures were some of the actual moment of explosion during the launch of the Challenger.
Those 26 photographs would soon become the first to ever be published of the aircraft’s entire launch, and subsequent end, clearly depicting both the launch and takeoff, and ending with the tragic images of flames and smoke.
Around 11:40 a.m. EST on January 28, 1986, billions of people around the world watched in horror as the Challenger spacecraft prepared for a launch into space, ending abruptly as the aircraft exploded 73 seconds into its takeoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
A leak in one of the two Solid Rocket Boosters – which ignited the shuttle’s main liquid fuel tank – caused the explosion of the STS-51-L, ending the lives of seven people aboard the rocket, including an Air Force test pilot, electrical engineer, and a teacher.
The Challenger‘s crew consisted of commander Dick Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, three mission specialists: Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, and Ellison Onizuka. The final two crew members were not official employees of the Federal government; fuel expert Gregory Jarvis and teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe, rounded out the crew for the tragic mission.
McAuliffe was selected from a pool of 11,000 applicants who were in the education profession, making her the first teacher to ever fly in space. The idea for a teacher to join the crew was borne from NASA’s desire to see an educator communicate live with students from space. The attention and excitement garnered by this is thought to be one of the main factors for the publicity that stemmed from the tragedy.
Hindes, who was searching through old photographs after his grandmother’s death, was with his family when he pulled the pictures out of an old box. He says when he showed them to his grandfather, Bill Rendle’s face fell upon the realization of what they showed.
Rendle had come into possession of the photos when he was given them by a fellow NASA employee, soon after the accident. Hindes says his entire family underwent an “overwhelming moment” when he showed them the pictures, before he then posted them on Reddit, igniting a furious storm of interest and comments from the site’s millions of world-wide viewers.
Hindes says, “I watched this happen live on TV with my class in fourth grade, and anyone who knows what that was like also knows that it’s something that will stick with you forever.”
Main image courtesy @Yahoo via Twitter.
Article Images courtesy Americanmustache via Reddit.