Widow of Challenger Astronaut Saves Flight Suit, Medals From House Fire

Cheryl McNair's home had an irreplaceable collection of items from her husband's time at NASA before he died in the Challenger space shuttle in 1986.

Cheryl McNair's astronaut husband, Ron McNair, perished aboard the Challenger space shuttle, which broke apart 73 seconds after liftoff in 1986.

Now, Cheryl has survived a harrowing ordeal of her own, escaping from her suburban Houston home just in the nick of time after it went up in flames last month. 

She feared priceless mementos from her husband might be lost in the blaze, but many were able to be salvaged from the burned-out home. 

"We actually were able to retrieve quite a bit of memorabilia," Cheryl told Inside Edition, showcasing what was saved. "Lots of pictures, actually. Ron's flight suit."

His shuttle mission medals were also discovered among the smoldering debris

"I have a piece of his mission still in my hands and that's a good feeling to have," said Cheryl.

Another miraculous save? Cheryl's beloved cat, Rocka, who was found by firefighters.

"I'm so blessed that I am alive," said Cheryl. "... My family is fine. Even my cat is fine."

Cheryl created the Dr. Ronald E. McNair DREME Foundation in her husband's memory, aimed at inspiring children to overcome life's hurdles and reach for the stars. 

"We always have something that can shake up your life," she said, "but you don't let that beat you."