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Remembering Challenger Tragedy 25 Years Later

Friday marks 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after takeoff.

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor took a look back at the tragedy on the broadcast Friday morning.

On Jan. 28, 1986, June Scobee watched the shuttle's 25th liftoff first-hand. Her husband, Dick Scobee was the commander. Scobee was among the six astronauts -- and one teacher -- aboard the shuttle.

June recalled to CBS News, "We were so excited shouting, jubilant, that finally they were launching."

This particular mission was routine in many ways, but more significant in one. Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire, was chosen to become the first teacher in space. Through lessons, she'd bring the nation's students along with her.

That morning, school kids around the country were glued to TV sets as the shuttle left Earth.

Just 68 seconds into the flight, Scobee uttered the last words anyone would ever hear from the Challenger crew: "Go with throttle up."

Bob Sieck, shuttle operations manager at Kennedy Space Center, said, "We knew as soon as we saw the fireball that the explosion that we didn't have a chance of getting the crew back alive."

The space shuttle -- America's symbol of technical prowess -- was brought down because cold weather had caused rubber O ring seals in the rocket boosters to weaken and fail. Seven people lost their lives -- as a nation looked on.

That evening, President Reagan consoled the country, saying, "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

Today, June Scobee's effort -- The Challenger Space Centers -- stand in remembrance. The centers, at locations across the U.S., teach children the same lessons Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger crew were going to teach back in 1986.

Click on the video below for Glor's full report.

Challenger Disaster: 25 Years Later