A VOA Snapshot - Part of VOA's 60th Anniversary Year Coverage

Ever since the first manned U.S. space launch in 1961 VOA has covered the space program extensively, but never more memorably than on January 28, 1986.

"Four, three, two, one and liftoff, There go the boosters and there goes liftoff. It's now clearing the pad. It's a beautiful blaze of color as it soars into the sky. Normal throtle. Normal thrust. The engines are preforming as they're supposed to. The next main point in the liftoff will be the separation of the solid rocket boosters, which occurs roughly two and a half minutes into the flight."

As VOA's Brian Cislak described the liftoff of the Space Shuttle Challenger, together with the voice of Mission Control, neither they nor anyone else knew that in just a moment that seemingly 'normal' launch would be seared into the memories of all Americans, and millions of people around the world.

"Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction."

'Obviously a major malfunction,' Those now haunting words from Mission Control were the first indication of what became known as the Challenger Disaster.

"We have a problem. We have a problem. We have a report from the flight dynamics officer that the vehicle has exploded. Flight director confirms that. We are now looking at checking the recovery."

Six astronauts and American school teacher Christa McAuliffe died on the Challenger that day. It was the darkest day in the history of human space travel.

VOA was one of the few American broadcasters carrying the Challenger launch live that day. And VOA continues to broadcast launches and landings of the space shuttle live. Our listeners tell us that science, and the space program in particular, are among their main topics of interest.

Snapshots will contine throughout our 60th anniversary year, here at VOANews.com.

To write to us about our anniversary, send an email to anniversary@voanews.com. Or, send regular mail to Anniversary, VOA News Now, Washington, D.C. 20237, USA.