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Footage Shows Devastating Reaction To Space Challenger Disaster

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Footage Shows Devastating Reaction To Space Challenger Disaster

Today marks a devastating date in world history, as on 29 January 33 years ago, NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing seven crew members in the process.

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The spacecraft broke apart 73 seconds after taking off from the coast of Florida as part of mission STS-51-L - the 10th flight of the Challenger space shuttle and the 25th flight of the Space Shuttle program.

As the world looks back at the numerous factors that contributed to this catastrophic incident, one of the most poignant remnants to have resurfaced this week is that of the Mission Control team's reaction.

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The footage shows those on NASA ground control as they are made aware of the explosion. Unlike the scenes in Hollywood films, the men are eerily quiet and maintain a strict level of professionalism - but from the heavy breathing, distressed yet silent exchanges and devastated expressions, it's clear they were suffering from within.

Many commenters offered sympathy towards those in the video, with one writing: "The professionalism is incredible. Nobody shouted. Nobody swore. Makes you wonder how many of these guys lost it later in the day. Most probably knew the astronauts."

The Challenger space shuttle explodes. Credit: PA
The Challenger space shuttle explodes. Credit: PA

"For everyone in the room it must have been like taking a sledgehammer to the gut [as they] realise what just happened," wrote another. "They all look pretty cool and collected but I can guarantee you they were just as horrified as everyone else watching it happen, it's just that they're trained professionals who know it's their duty and obligation not to panic at times like that."

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In addition to those at ground level, many family members were left devastated by the 1986 tragedy, which was supposed to mark a milestone in spaceflight - the first voyage of a civilian teacher.

Christa McAuliffe was meant to be the first educator in space, having landed a spot after joining NASA as part of the agency's Teacher In Space project.

However, she became one of seven whose lives were sadly cut short when the rocket booster failure caused the spacecraft's fuel tank to ignite, leading to the fatal explosion.

McAuliffe's memory is honored through various scholarship programs, learning centers and charities, and she is set to be played by Michelle Williams in an upcoming film about her life and the disaster, The Challenger, according to the Huffington Post.

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To this day, the Challenger remains one of the worst space disasters in history - 33 years later, the footage is still difficult to watch.

Featured Image Credit: NASA / PA

Topics: US News, Nasa, space

Daisy Phillipson
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