VIDEO VAULT: 33 years ago, Ellison Onizuka was lost in Challenger disaster

VIDEO VAULT: 33 years ago, Ellison Onizuka was lost in Challenger disaster
The seven crew members of the space shuttle Challenger died with the shuttle exploded on Jan. 28, 1986.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been 33 years since the Challenger explosion killed seven astronauts, including Ellison Onizuka from the Big Island.

The horrific scene was broadcast live on national television when, 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Station, the rocket exploded.

The nation watched in disbelief as you can still see in these three videos from the Hawaii News Now archives.

From Joy To Pure Terror

The final hours of space shuttle Challenger crew

Onizuka was 39 when he died. He was NASA's first Asian American astronaut.

Born and raised in Kealakekua, Onizuka left a lasting legacy on the Big Island.

Onizuka’s Mission

1986 NASA produced mini documentary about Ellison Onizuka

Onizuka's brother, Claude, saw the tragedy first-hand.

"We were about three miles from the launch site out in an open observation area. When the Challenger blew up, it was almost overhead," he said.

An investigation showed cold temperatures compromised the seals in the Challenger's twin rocket boosters.

Onizuka was born June 24, 1946 on Hawaii Island.
Onizuka was born June 24, 1946 on Hawaii Island.

Onizuka said when his brother was alive he prepared his family for a worst-case scenario.

“Ellison always told us if anything went wrong, it’s like sitting on top of a giant bomb,” Claude recounted when HNN interviewed him back in 2016.

Hawaii Mourns The Loss Of A Hero

In 1986 Hawaii mourned the loss of a hero

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