It was to be another first in America's storied space program, which had features many of the most historic events in the race to the stars, including man's first trip to the moon.
The space shuttle program, which many felt had so many flights they were almost thought to be routine, changed drastically that day.
The nation's first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, joined scientists and veteran space travelers Dick Scobee, Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik aboard the shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986, as they lifted off from Kennedy Space Center.
But barely 90 seconds into their flight, and with millions of people watching on TV and at the site, Challenger was destroyed by a massive explosion.
It's been 28 years, but the crew, the mission and what happened that day have not been forgotten.
Here are some of the stories and photos from The Oklahoman's coverage of the aftermath of this historic event: