At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On board were seven crew members. Seventy-three seconds after liftoff, the shuttle exploded. All seven were lost.
A young Disneyland worker from California, 19-year-old Jeffrey Ault, traveled to Florida to witness the launch. He captured the events on a personal Super 8 camera. The footage remained in a box at Ault’s home for twenty-six years, until he released it this past March.
The video is chilling - in particular when the crowd grows confused following the explosion and we hear public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt announce, “We have a report from the Flight Dynamics Officer that the vehicle has exploded.”