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Transcript of the Challenger Crew Comments from the Operational Recorder

Editorial Note: This is a transcript of the Challenger operational recorder voice tape. It reveals the comments of Commander Francis R.Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist 1 Ellison S. Onizuka, and Mission Specialist 2 Judith A. Resnik for the period of T-2:05 prior to launch through approximately T+73 seconds when loss of all data occurred. The operational recorder was automatically activated at T-2:05 and normally runs throughout the mission. During the period of the prelaunch and the launch phase covered by the voice tape, Mission Specialist 3 Ronald E. McNair, Payload Specialist 1 S. Christa McAuliffe, and Payload Specialist 2 Gregory B. Jarvis were seated in the middeck and could monitor all voice activity but did not make any voice reports or comments. This transcript was released following the accident on January 28, 1986. A copy of the document is also available in the NASA Historical Reference Collection, History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

CDR: Scobee
PLT: Smith
MS 1: Onizuka
MS 2: Resnik

(The references to “NASA” indicate explanatory references NASA provided to the Presidential Commission.)

Time (Min:Sec) Crew Position Crew Comment
T-2:05 MS 2 Would you give that back to me?
T-2:03 MS 2 Security blanket.
T-2:02 MS 2 Hmm.
T-1:58 CDR Two minutes downstairs; you gotta watch running down there?
(NASA: Two minutes till launch.)  
T-1:47 PLT  OK there goes the lox arm.
(NASA: Liquid oxygen supply arm to ET.)  
T-1:46 CDR Goes the beanie cap.
(NASA: Liquid oxygen vent cap.)    
T-1:44 MS 1 Doesn’t it go the other way?
T-1:42   Laughter.
T-1:39 MS 1 Now I see it; I see it.
T-1:39 PLT God I hope not Ellison.
T-1:38 MS 1 I couldn’t see it moving; it was behind the center screen.
(NASA: Obstructed view of liquid oxygen supply arm.)  
T-1:33 MS 2 Got your harnesses locked?
(NASA: Seat restraints.)  
T-1:29 PLT What for?
T-1:28 CDR I won’t lock mine; I might have to reach something.
T-1:24 PLT Ooh kaaaay.
T-1:04 MS 1 Dick’s thinking of somebody there.
T-1:03 CDR Unhuh.
T-59 CDR One minute downstairs.
(NASA: One minute till launch.)    
T-52 MS 2 Cabin Pressure is probably going to give us an alarm.
(NASA: Caution and warning alarm. Routine occurrence during prelaunch).    
T-50 CDR OK.
T-47 CDR OK there.
T-43 PLT Alarm looks good.
(NASA: Cabin pressure is acceptable.)    
T-42 CDR OK.
T-40 PLT Ullage pressures are up.
(NASA: External tank ullage pressure.)    
T-34 PLT Right engine helium tank is just a little bit low.
(NASA: SSME supply helium pressure.)    
T-32 CDR It was yesterday, too.
T-31 PLT OK.
T-30 CDR Thirty seconds down there.
(NASA: 30 seconds till launch.)    
T-25 PLT Remember the red button when you make a roll call.
(NASA: Precautionary reminder for communications configuration.)    
T-23 CDR I won’t do that; thanks a lot.
T-15 CDR Fifteen.
(NASA: 15 seconds till launch.)    
T-6 CDR There they go guys.
(NASA: SSME Ignition.)    
  MS 2 All right.
  CDR Three at a hundred.
(NASA: SSME thrust level at 100% for all 3 engines.)    
T+O MS 2 Aaall riiight.
T+1 PLT Here we go.
(NASA: Vehicle motion.)    
T+7 CDR Houston, Challenger roll program.
(NASA: Initiation of vehicle roll program.)    
T+11 PLT Go you Mother.
T+14 MS 1  LVLH.
(NASA: Reminder for cockpit switch configuration change. Local vertical/local horizontal).    
T+15 MS 2 (Expletive) hot.
T+16 CDR Ooohh-kaaay.
T+19 PLT Looks like we’ve got a lotta wind here today.
T+20 CDR Yeah.
T+22 CDR It’s a little hard to see out my window here.
T+28 PLT There’s ten thousand feet and Mach point five.
(NASA: Altitude and velocity report.)  
T+30 Garble.
T+35 CDR Point nine.
(NASA: Velocity report, 0.9 Mach).  
T+40 PLT There’s Mach one.
(NASA: Velocity report, 1.0 Mach).  
T+41 CDR Going through nineteen thousand.
(NASA: Altitude report, 19,000 ft.)  
T+43 CDR OK we’re throttling down.
(NASA: Normal SSME thrust reduction during maximum dynamic pressure region.)  
T+57 CDR Throttling up.
(NASA: Throttle up to 104% after maximum dynamic pressure.)  
T+58 PLT Throttle up.
T+59 CDR Roger.
T+60 PLT Feel that mother go.
T+60   Woooohoooo.
T+1:02 PLT Thirty-five thousand going through one point five
(NASA: Altitude and velocity report, 35,000 ft., 1.5 Mach).  
T+1:05 CDR Reading four eighty six on mine.
(NASA: Routine airspeed indicator check.)  
T+1:07 PLT Yep, that’s what I’ve got, too.
T+1:10 CDR Roger, go at throttle up.
(NASA: SSME at 104 percent.)  
T+1:13 PLT Uhoh.



Last Updated
Apr 16, 2024

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