Friday is the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion.

For many Americans, those words trigger memories of instant shock followed by national mourning when, on Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger shuttle exploded just seconds after launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Seven crew members perished in the explosion. Among them was Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher from Concord, N.H., who was traveling with NASA as part of the first-ever “Teacher in Space” program. McAuliffe would conduct experiments from space and teach lessons so her class could follow along back on Earth.

The explosion was captured on live TV in front of millions of Americans who watched in horror when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, nine miles up. Also killed instantly in the blast were astronaut Judith Resnik, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialists Ellison Onizuka and Ronald McNair, payload specialist Gregory Jarvis and Commander Francis Scobee.

Flags flew at half-staff Thursday for NASA’s Day of Remembrance, always the last Thursday in January.

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