Challenger Space Shuttle disaster: History Channel dive team finds piece 36 years after accident that killed 7

36 years after the Challenger space shuttle disaster, an amazing discovery has been made.

NASA officials told ABC13 that a 20-foot segment of the shuttle was spotted and recovered by divers off Florida’s east coast.

The dive team was working for a History Channel documentary about the Bermuda Triangle, looking for wreckage of a World War II-era plane, when they noticed a large man-made object partially covered with sand on the seabed, the says NASA.

Due to the object’s proximity to the Florida Space Coast, the object’s modern construction, and the presence of 8-inch square tiles, the documentation team contacted NASA, who wanted to ensure that the surviving family members of the Challenger crew were notified first.

It should be noted that while the documentary refers to the Bermuda Triangle, the artifact was found well to the northwest of that area.

The video below looks at the coverage of the Challenger disaster and how the astronauts were remembered.

On January 28, 1986, seven astronauts were killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch. It broke apart over the Atlantic, making salvage difficult.


The Challenger crew in a photo from 1986. Front L-R: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee and Ronald E. McNair. Back: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

NASA/AP photo

Also on board was New Hampshire high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, chosen by NASA to be the first woman teacher in space. She would work as a crew payload specialist. The other six crew members were Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Mission Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Pilot Mike J. Smith, and Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka.

The shuttle lifted off from Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida just before noon. Americans watched from the ground and on TVs across the country. Many of them were school children who were very interested in the launch because of McAuliffe.

After takeoff, a booster engine broke apart, according to NASA. Just 73 seconds into flight, the space shuttle exploded in mid-air and broke apart.

It has been disputed whether all seven astronauts died in the blast, or whether some of them might have been alive until they fell to the ground. It was the first time NASA had lost an astronaut during a flight.

According to NASA, space shuttle artifacts remain the property of the US government by law, so anyone who believes they have found an artifact should always contact NASA for information on how to return it.

Regarding next steps, NASA said it is “carefully considering additional actions that will duly honor the legacy of the Challengers, the lost crew members and the families who loved them.”

“Challenger and her crew live on in the hearts and memories of NASA and the nation. NASA remains committed to applying the hard lessons of the past to improve the safety of space exploration in the future,” NASA continued.

On the night of the disaster, President Ronald Reagan addressed the American people. After offering his condolences to the families of those killed, he reflected on the country’s space exploration.

“We’ve grown accustomed to the idea of ​​space, and maybe we’re forgetting we’ve only just begun. We are still pioneers. You, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers,” he said.

He continued to address the school children who had been watching and told them that sometimes tragedy is part of the process of broadening horizons.

“The future does not belong to the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave,” he said. “The Challenger crew pulled us into the future and we will continue to follow them.”

NASA marks more than one somber anniversary on January 28th. It also commemorates those who died in the Apollo 1 and Columbia accidents. The Apollo 1 fire, which killed three people, occurred on January 27, 1967, while the Columbia disaster, which killed seven people, occurred on February 1, 2003.

In the Columbia accident, parts were left scattered across several states. The Columbia Accident Investigating Board rebuilt it piece by piece in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center.

Challenger’s anniversary on January 28 and the 1967 Apollo I disaster were particularly hard on the Houston area and the Johnson Space Center.

“Thousands of people in Friendswood have dedicated themselves to the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs,” Mayor Mike Foreman said in a statement. “They dreamed big and devoted their careers and hearts to our nation’s space exploration. On behalf of a grateful city, I offer my condolences to all of the astronauts’ families, NASA employees and everyone affected by these tragedies. We will never forget your devotion and sacrifice.”

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