The footage, according to Huffington Post
, was shot by Steven Virostek.
Virostek's footage is one of a few amateur videos of the 1986 disaster that have emerged in recent years. Virostek died in the 1990s, Huffington Post
reports, but the video was found by his niece Tricia Hunt, while looking for her wedding video. Hunt spoke to Huffington Post
about Virostek and his wife Hope: "They went to all the space shuttle launches. It was a very big passion for them. They would go at 3 a.m. and get the best seats."
Hunt reveals that one of the reasons why the Virosteks chose to retire from Rhode Island to Titusville, Florida, "Space City, USA," was to be close to the Kennedy Space Center and attend shuttle launches.
The couple attended the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986. One of the members of the Challenger crew was Christa McAuliffe, the first participant in NASA's Teacher in Space Project
. According to Daily Mail
, McAuliffe beat 11,000 other candidates to join the Challenger crew. Mrs. Virostek, who was for nearly 40 years a school teacher, attended the launch to cheer McAufiffe off.
reports that McAuliffe's membership of the Challenger crew was a major reason why many people attended the launch.
Mrs. Virostek can be heard in the video cheering loudly
as the shuttle takes off: "C'mon, Chris!...Go Chris, Go! Beautiful! Oh, Beautiful, Chris!...Go, Chris, Go!"
But her enthusiasm turns into horror 73 seconds into the launch. Disaster struck mid-air, and we hear loud cries of shock and horror as the shuttle explodes about 10 miles in the air and the burning debris begins falling back to the earth.
We hear Hope crying in the video: "Something went wrong!"
About 39 seconds after the explosion, we hear the voice of NASA's public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt in the video, broadcasting from the Mission Control Center in Houston: "Flight control is here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction."
Virostek continues filming, and the video ends with his wife's prayer: "May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace."
All seven members of the Challenger crew perished: McAuliffe, Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.
reports Hunt said the Virosteks were devastated. She said: "After it happened, for weeks and months they would go to the local beach to search for parts of the shuttle."
The cause of the disaster was confirmed: a faulty seal in one of the shuttle's fuel tanks. Daily Mail
reports that it was found that several of those on board survived the initial explosion but could not escape because the shuttle had no escape system.
President Reagan ordered a probe into the disaster and it was concluded that poor management and disregard for safety measures contributed to the accident.
The shuttle program was suspended for nearly three years. The next shuttle Discovery took off on September 29, 1988.
The shuttle program ended last year and all vessels in the program were retired.