Entries in Vic Ratner (1)


Remembering Challenger: 25 Years Ago Shuttle Exploded After Liftoff

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Just before noon on Jan. 28, 1986, people watched with excitement as the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from its Florida launch pad.

“It was 36 degrees at launch time, colder than NASA had ever launched a shuttle,” recalls ABC News correspondent Vic Ratner, who was on scene 25 years ago to broadcast the launch live to a national radio audience.

“Scraping the ice off my rental car that morning,” Ratner says, “I remember thinking, ‘They probably won't fly today. It's too cold.’”

But Challenger did launch.

“Pieces of ice tumble off as the coldest space shuttle launch ever gets underway,” Ratner announced on the 1986 broadcast. “Challenger seems to shake herself free of the ice and goes. All five rocket engines burning,” he said.

Seventy-three seconds later, the shuttle exploded.

“Not a word from mission control,” Ratner said. “Everybody here is open-mouthed.”

“Where is the shuttle, Vic?” asked Ratner’s partner, Bob Walker. “Can you see it?”

“Something has gone seriously wrong,” Ratner said.

All seven astronauts on board were killed.

One of its crew members was Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from New Hampshire who had won a national competition to become the first teacher in space. The goal was to boost interest in space exploration among American school children, many of whom were watching the Challenger's launch live on television or in person.

A commission later concluded that NASA was too complacent that morning about the risks facing the shuttle and its astronauts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio