More than 25 years later, what is thought to be one of the only home videos capturing the tragedy that befell the Challenger Shuttle on Jan. 28, 1986, has been released.
New Scientist reports that the father of one of its current employees had been filming the launch from Kennedy Space Center while on a return trip from a family vacation to Disney World. The footage taken by Bob Karman at the Orlando airport was converted from its VHS format last month.
Watch the clip:
According to New Scientist, The Guardian had called a similar amateur video that was found in 2010 the only one like it, but Karman’s footage shows otherwise:
His late wife and 3-year-old daughter Kim, who now works at New Scientist, are visible in the beginning of the clip. “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 says.
Karman always remembered filming the event but it was only recently, while researching historic amateur videos, that he became aware of the video’s rarity. Captured in an era that precedes mobile phones, when few people owned camcorders, it’s one of few video recordings of the disaster by a member of the public.
According to NASA spokesperson Michael Curie, NASA does not have a collection of amateur videos of the disaster. “The Rogers Commission used all the NASA photography and videos in its investigation but we do not know if they used outside amateur videos,” he says.
There is a stark difference between the home video with no commentary aside from that of spectators or ability to zoom close enough to capture the true severity of the event. Watch this CNN clip to see the difference:
All seven crew members were killed in the explosion. The disaster struck due to an improperly sealed component in one of its solid rocket boosters, which resulted in a series of events that led to several components falling off at Mach speeds.