Transcript of the statement yesterday at Cape Canaveral by Jesse W. Moore, associate administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
At 11:40 a.m. this morning, the space program experienced a national tragedy with the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger approximately a minute and a half after launch from here at the Kennedy Space Center.
I regret that I have to report that, based on very preliminary searches of the ocean where the Challenger impacted this morning, these searches have not revealed any evidence that the crew of Challenger survived.
The dedicated crew members of Challenger are commander Francis (Dick) Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialists Dr. Judy Resnick, Ellison Onizuka and Dr. Ronald McNair, and payload specialists on board were Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis.
All early indications in the Launch Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center have indicated that the launch was normal up to approximately 11:40 a.m. this morning, about a minute or so into the flight.
Flight controllers in the Launch Control Center here and in the Mission Control Center in Houston who were polled immediately after the explosion reported that they did not see anything unusual up to that point.
The solid-rocket-booster recovery ships were immediately dispatched to the area, approximately 18 or so miles down range from Kennedy, along with various Coast Guard and military ships, helicopters and planes.
I have taken an immediate action to form an interim investigating board to implement early activities in this tragedy. Data from all of the shuttle instrumentation, photographs, launch-pad systems, hardware, cargo, ground-support systems and even notes made by any member of the launch team and flight ops team are being impounded for study.
A formal board will be established by the acting administrator very, very shortly. Subsequent reports on this tragedy will be made by this formal review board.
I am aware, and have seen, the media showing footage of the launch today from the NASA select system. We will not speculate as to the specific cause of the explosion based on that footage. It will take all the data, careful review of that data, before we can draw any conclusions on this national tragedy.