More than 25 years after the space shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off, an extremely rare amateur recording of the disaster has been uncovered.
According to the Huffington Post, 19-year-old Jeffrey Ault attended the launch with his parents and friend during a visit to Florida in January 1986. He captured the events with his Chinon Super 8 film camera:
The video begins with the countdown to launch, and as the Challenger lifts off, cheers and applause can be heard in the background. The camera follows the shuttle as it climbs, reaching a height of more than nine nautical miles. At 73 seconds, a fireball appears and a woman screams. It’s not until 39 seconds later that Steve Nesbitt’s chilling words can be heard from the Mission Control Center: “Flight control is here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.”
As the giant smoke plumes spread across the sky, a woman says “Oh my God!”
“‘Major malfunction?’” a man asks in disbelief.
When Nesbitt comes back to confirm “the vehicle has exploded,” there are stunned, disbelieving gasps as his words are repeated.
“Oh please, don’t say that,” a woman says. The footage ends moments later.
Ault told the Huffington Post the footage sat untouched in a box in his house for 26 years until he watched it again last week.
Reflecting on the day, he told the site in an email: “I was hoping to see an event that I would remember for the rest of my life….I did. Just not the way I would have liked to.”
Despite the incredible rareness of the footage, it is in fact the second home video of the explosion to surface in the last month. In February, The Blaze reported on another amateur video that had turned up from the father of a current NASA employee.