Big Bird Actor Caroll Spinney Narrowly Escaped Being A Passenger On The Doomed Challenger Flight

05/06/2015 04:33 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2015

Big Bird was supposed to be one of the passengers on the Challenger space shuttle, according to the actor who spent years inside the "Sesame Street" character's costume.

Caroll Spinney, who played Big Bird for 46 years, told HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd on Wednesday that he was invited to ride the rocket and said yes, "because I could not ever imagine that I would be in the situation to orbit the earth."

Fortunately for him, the invitation had to be revoked as the Big Bird costume was too large for the mission on the doomed shuttle.

"Big Bird couldn't be stored on that spaceship," he recalled. "There's just no place to put him. The quarters were quite cramped."

The actor vividly remembers watching Challenger's disastrous launch. "We saw its fate and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I was supposed to be on that.'"

"But worse than that selfish thought," he continued, "I felt, 'Oh my god, those poor people. They're gone.'"

The documentary "I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story" is in theaters today.

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