Watch the trailer for new Netflix series on tragic Challenger explosion

Teacher Christa McAuliffe and the six other astronauts were lost on that cold January day in 1986.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

"This wasn't how it was supposed to be," says a teary Alison Smith Balch, daughter of pilot Michael J. Smith, in the first trailer for Netflix's new four-episode series, Challenger: The Final Flight. The poignant trailer, released on Wednesday, takes viewers back to the disastrous January 1986 launch of the space shuttle, with Smith, Francis R. Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis and teacher Christa McAuliffe on board. 

The shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, with no survivors. Due to McAuliffe's participation, the launch was being shown live in many American classrooms, and watching the explosion remains a grim childhood memory for those now-grown schoolchildren. Even the trailer, which sets up the hope and excitement as Challenger's diverse crew prepared to launch, is difficult to watch dry-eyed.

The Netflix original series features interviews with family members of the lost crew members, and also investigates the flawed decisions and mechanical failures that led to the explosion, including interviews with NASA officials and engineers who worked on the failed booster engine and had repeated concerns about its safety. It also features never-before-seen interviews, training footage and rare archival material.

J.J. Abrams and Glen Zipper are executive producers of the series, which premieres Sept. 16 on Netflix.

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