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Air & Space

Amateur video reveals '86 Challenger disaster

Challenger Explosion.jpg

Jan. 28, 1986: The Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right solid rocket booster caused an explosion soon after launch. This photograph, taken a few seconds after the accident, shows the main engines and solid rocket booster exhaust plumes entwined around a ball of gas from the external tank. (NASA)

A newly released amateur video depicts the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger -- the Jan. 28, 1986 explosion that took the lives of seven crew members and shook America's confidence in spaceflight.

The incident led to a 32-month hiatus in Shuttle flights and the creation of the Rogers Commission, which ultimately urged NASA to reorganize and place a fresh emphasis on safety.

The newly discovered video was captured by registered nurse Bob Karman while his family was vacationing at Disney World, reported New Scientist. His late wife and 3-year-old daughter Kim, who now works at the science website, are visible in the clip amazed at the shuttle launch -- unaware that something had gone horribly wrong.

"After shooting the video, I had a sense that something went wrong but it wasn't until we were on the plane that the pilot confirmed the tragedy," he told New Scientist.

The site reports that only one other amateur video of the disaster was known to exist. NASA spokesman Michael Curie told New Scientist that the Rogers Commission had gathered all known footage of the disaster, but even the space agency itself was unaware if they had used outside amateur videos.

Karman digitized the clip from old VHS footage last month, New Scientist reported.

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