Aviation News

January 31, 2010

Dying Man Shares Previously Unseen Amateur Video of Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

More articles by »
By: NYCA Admin
Tags: , ,
challenger-amateur-100

Video cameras were not the ubiquitous devices in 1986 that they are today, so the only video footage of the Space Shuttle Challenger most of us have seen are the live network broadcasts captured by the lenses of CBS and CNN.

Optometrist Dr. Jack Moss, however, was playing with his new Betamax camcorder that chilly January morning, and recorded the sad event from his front yard in Winter Haven, Florida, about 70 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral.

Moss had never shared the tape with the media or NASA, but a week before he died this past December, he fished it out of his attic and handed it over to the Space Exploration Archive, a non-profit organization in Louisville, Kentucky. The Archive transferred the video to digital formats and released it to the public domain in time for the 24th anniversary of the disaster this past week.

“That’s trouble of some kind, George,” says Moss, as the shuttle’s single smoke plume suddenly expands and then splits into a Y-shape. As Moss and other onlookers spend several moments contemplating if something had gone wrong, a neighbor checks the news inside his house, only to return and confirm “It exploded!”

(via Louiville Courier Journal)


  • http://daevid.com Daevid Vincent

    Uhm, why did he wait TWENTY FOUR YEARS to release this!??

    • Anonmymous

      He probably didn't think about how significant it was until he was going through his possessions to figure out who his things would go to when he died.

  • http://daevid.com Daevid Vincent

    Uhm, why did he wait TWENTY FOUR YEARS to release this!??

    • Anonmymous

      He probably didn't think about how significant it was until he was going through his possessions to figure out who his things would go to when he died.

  • anon

    i suggest listening to it muted. the audio detracts from the experience.

    • Rich

      Disagree completely. The experience is not seeing a lit candle go out, but to see how those who were there at the time were affected by it. We the audience know what to expect and wait for it to happen, but you can lose yourself in the moment, hearing moss come to the realization and surprise that something horrible happened.

    • Steve

      On the contrary, it is his commentary that, mundane as it is, makes for such an interesting and important piece of footage. It just goes to show that even by 1986 people took space exploration for granted, and it was Moss' way of epxressing his surprise.

  • anon

    i suggest listening to it muted. the audio detracts from the experience.

    • Rich

      Disagree completely. The experience is not seeing a lit candle go out, but to see how those who were there at the time were affected by it. We the audience know what to expect and wait for it to happen, but you can lose yourself in the moment, hearing moss come to the realization and surprise that something horrible happened.

    • Steve

      On the contrary, it is his commentary that, mundane as it is, makes for such an interesting and important piece of footage. It just goes to show that even by 1986 people took space exploration for granted, and it was Moss' way of epxressing his surprise.

  • guest

    I remember when right out of high school I was working in an RV shop, in a city in northern Utah which was in close proximity to where Morton Thiokol built the shuttle boosters in the 80's. This was a few years after the Challenger explosion. As the kid on the crew I got all of the grunt work including the day that some guy who was some sort of executive at Thiokol brought in his very high end top of the line RV (bus) in for repairs.
    One day he came in to check on the progress of his unit, while I was under the unit working on some undesirable problem that the new guy always gets, and he and the boss were joking around about how after "he blew up the shuttle" he still managed to land on his feet by allowing himself to be "fired" yet getting brought right back in, under the radar, as "consultant" at the same pay.
    Yeah they had a great laugh and I was so disgusted that I almost threw up. This was over 20 years ago, yet I still remember the disgust as if it were yesterday.

  • guest

    I remember when right out of high school I was working in an RV shop, in a city in northern Utah which was in close proximity to where Morton Thiokol built the shuttle boosters in the 80's. This was a few years after the Challenger explosion. As the kid on the crew I got all of the grunt work including the day that some guy who was some sort of executive at Thiokol brought in his very high end top of the line RV (bus) in for repairs.
    One day he came in to check on the progress of his unit, while I was under the unit working on some undesirable problem that the new guy always gets, and he and the boss were joking around about how after "he blew up the shuttle" he still managed to land on his feet by allowing himself to be "fired" yet getting brought right back in, under the radar, as "consultant" at the same pay.
    Yeah they had a great laugh and I was so disgusted that I almost threw up. This was over 20 years ago, yet I still remember the disgust as if it were yesterday.

  • LC808

    I was in elementary school in Hawaii at time…our teacher let us watch most shuttle launches, but the whole school paused to watch this in our classrooms as we were very proud of Ellison Onizuka who was from Hawaii. This tragedy still saddens me to this day…Though the new camera angle is interesting.

  • LC808

    I was in elementary school in Hawaii at time…our teacher let us watch most shuttle launches, but the whole school paused to watch this in our classrooms as we were very proud of Ellison Onizuka who was from Hawaii. This tragedy still saddens me to this day…Though the new camera angle is interesting.

  • Lonny Eachus

    And even though specifically ordered to by the President at the time, 23+ years later, NASA still hasn't solved its bureaucratic SNAFUs, requiring yet another President to step in and try to make silk purses.

  • Lonny Eachus

    And even though specifically ordered to by the President at the time, 23+ years later, NASA still hasn't solved its bureaucratic SNAFUs, requiring yet another President to step in and try to make silk purses.