Many remember 'Challenger' explosion on 30th anniversary - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Many remember 'Challenger' explosion on 30th anniversary

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This 1986 file photo provided by NASA shows the crew of the space shuttle Challenger. From left are Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik. (Source: AP Photo/NASA) This 1986 file photo provided by NASA shows the crew of the space shuttle Challenger. From left are Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik. (Source: AP Photo/NASA)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

It was the first flight tragedy for NASA, and while it was decades ago, many will never forget it.

Thirty years ago today, in 1986, the space shuttle “Challenger” exploded after launching from the Kennedy Space Center.

"You could see both the rocket silos - splitting off from each other. I looked up and I looked at my fifth grade teacher and said ‘Miss Addie, something doesn't look right in the sky with the shuttle’,” said Zac Davis, who witnessed the Challenger explosion.

The seven member crew was killed instantly.

Davis said he grew up near Cape Canaveral, and he was walking back from lunch, and when he got back to class, he learned something bad had happened.

Everything seemed fine, until shortly after liftoff, when the shuttle’s external fuel tank collapsed, causing what looked like an explosion.

The shuttle broke apart and fell about 46,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, killing the seven crew members on board.

One of them was a New Hampshire school teacher named Christa McAuliffe, who was set to be the first civilian and teacher in space.

"Both my sisters are teachers in Windsor and Berlin. We had a lot of conversations about that to get through the grief,” said Dave Symonds, who watched the Challenger explosion.

Symonds grew up in New Hampshire, and was one of thousands of children across the country who were watching the liftoff on television.

Because of the crash, the shuttle was grounded for several years.

"Devastating, it was unexpected. It was devastating to see, and brings back emotions just thinking about it,” said Tesha Freeman-Pollard of Bloomfield.

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