Thirty Years Ago, the Challenger Crew Plunged Alive and Aware to Their Deaths

Tom Scocca · 01/28/16 02:08PM

On January 28, 1986, America watched on television as the space shuttle Challenger—carrying six astronauts and one schoolteacher—disappeared in a twisting cloud of smoke, nine miles above the launch pad it had just left. To a stunned nation, it appeared that seven lives had instantly been lost.