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A Challenger Tribute, 25 Years in the Making

Twenty-five years ago today, seven astronauts embarked on NASA’s 25th space shuttle mission, on January 28, 1986. The shuttle Challenger lifted off from Launch Complex 39-B at Kennedy Space Center at 11:38 a.m. local time.

Then, 73 seconds into the flight of STS-51L, the shuttle was engulfed in a cloud of vapor as it began to break apart 48,000 feet (14,630 meters) over the Atlantic Ocean. All seven astronauts died as a result of the disaster.

(Also see “5 Myths of Challenger Shuttle Disaster Debunked.”)

Two days after the tragedy, New York City musician Stephen Kay completed a 6 minute, 20 second-long song in tribute to Challenger and the entire shuttle program.

But in 1986—long before the widespread use of the Internet—Kay found no outlet for airing his work, and the Challenger tribute song went on the shelf for 24 years.

In 2010, however, Kay found the song again and spent six months updating the recording and creating an accompanying music video for the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

The music (and the vocal track) are vintage ’80s. But the sentiment certainly lives on: