On January 28, 1986, seventy three seconds after liftoff, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all on board.
Millions of Americans witnessed the tragedy on television, many of whom were tuned in because it was to be the first flight of the Teacher In Space Program and carried Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian to fly in space.
In addition to McAuliffe, the crew included Francis R. Scobee; pilot Michael J. Smith; mission specialists Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, and Judith A. Resnik; and payload specialists Gregory B. Jarvis.
The reaction from the crowds gathered to watch the launch to those watching at home was immediate and that of pain and shock. That evening, President Reagan consoled the Nation from the Oval Office, lamenting “we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this” (read the entire address here).
To honor the memory of those who perished 25 years ago, we invited you to share your memories of the disaster in the comments section below.