Challenger Disaster 30 Years Later: A Photographer Reflects

"There were people beside me that had never seen a launch before and they said, 'Oh wow, isn't that cool!' Well, I knew right then this was a disaster," Photojournalist Red Huber remarks in this video interview, in which he talks about his history covering the shuttle program, forming personal relationships with the astronauts, and the events and mood of that fateful day.

No one outside of NASA knows shuttle launches better than Red Huber. He covered them for thirty years, from the very first to the very last, and because of that, he came to know many of NASA's astronauts personally from photographing them in training and photo ops.

They get to know you, because, you know, when you cover a beat like this, you've got to make those connections, and it's amazing how much I value those relationships. You know, I've got to document this moment, but in the other side of me, I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh.' You know, I think of Judy Resnik, I think of Christa McAuliffe, I think of all... I think about the commander. I think about all of the people I got to meet, and it kind of personalizes it more so. You still, as a photojournalist, you have to stay down the middle and separate. You can't let your emotions affect the photograph. Then, it becomes not a true moment. But I still captured from my angle what I saw.

Check out this article from the Poynter Institute to read another interview and learn more about Huber and his history of photographing shuttle launches. You can also see several of his iconic photos in a pictorial retrospective the Orlando Sentinel put together as a tribute to those who died.

Log in or register to post comments

5 Comments

I enjoy Red Huber's work. Back when the Shuttle fleet was flying, he would produce a monthly calendar desktop image that was available for download from the Orlando Sentinel. that featured one of the Space Shuttles.

Popular Mechanics did an excellent piece on this. I suspect many members here are too young to even remember.

Sean Molin's picture

I was T-minus 8 months.

My parents had the Kennedys. My generation got the Challenger, Rodney King, Desert Storm, and 911.

Looking at what I just wrote, it makes me sad that I can't immediately think of some defining moment of awesome goodness for my generation.

I was sitting on the floor of my dorm room reading the news paper when I read the news on Q-95 out of Indianapolis...

Good interview, but it would have been interesting to hear the rest of the events of that day as they transpired from Huber's perspective.

Also, as horrific as that day was, it could have been worse emotionally... Recently NASA confirmed Caroll Spinney's story that he had had a series of talks with them about taking Big Bird into space on that mission. Eventually, both sides realized the logistics of taking the costume and making it work in zero gravity were just too much... so they later settled on trying to engage kids with the space program by taking a teacher into space instead. Imagine the mind-job that seeing Big Bird die would have done to young kids across the country if that had happened???