HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been 34 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.
In a new docuseries now available for streaming, ‘Challenger: The Final Flight,’ Netflix recounts the tragedy.
Using archival footage and new interviews with officials, astronauts, journalists and the family members of the crew, the series looks at why the accident occurred and how it impacted both NASA and the individuals directly involved.
Below the HNN digital team has posted even more rarely seen video from our broadcast archives.
Onizuka was 39 when he died. He was NASA's first Asian American astronaut.
Born in Kealakekua, Onizuka left a lasting legacy on the Big Island.
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 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.