Jan. 28, 1986: Space shuttle Challenger disaster

On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart less than two minutes after liftoff.

It was carrying a crew of seven, including America’s first citizen in space — a 37-year-old social studies teacher from New Hampshire.

From a 28-year-old copy of The Herald:

“A voice at Mission Control said, ‘We are checking with recovery forces to see what can be done at this point … Contingency procedures are in effect.’

The voice said, ‘Vehicle has exploded … We are awaiting word from any recovery forces downrange.’

The explosion was a devastating setback for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after successfully carrying out 24 space shuttle missions in slightly less than five years.

Mission Control said debris from the shuttle fell several miles out in the Atlantic and that recovery forces were speeding in that direction.”

Read more from The Herald’s Jan. 28, 1986, issue and others in our collection of historic front pages.

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