A Challenger shuttle fragment discovered on the ocean floor
At the bottom of the Atlantic, a sizable portion of the wrecked space shuttle Challenger was discovered buried in the sand.
More than three decades after the disaster, which claimed the lives of a schoolteacher and six others, a sizable portion of the wrecked space shuttle Challenger has been discovered buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic.
The finding was made public on Thursday by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Naturally, the feelings resurface, isn’t that right? stated Michael Ciannilli, a NASA manager who verified the validity of the relic. He remarked that watching the underwater video footage “had my heart skip a beat and brought me right back to 1986 and what we all went through as a country.”
According to Ciannilli, it’s one of the largest pieces of the Challenger recovered in the decades since the accident and the first piece to be found since two sections of the left-wing washed ashore in 1996.
The piece was initially discovered in March by divers searching for World War II plane wreckage for a television documentary. A few months ago, NASA used video to confirm that the object was indeed a component of the shuttle that disintegrated on January 28, 1986, not long after takeoff. All seven people on board died, including Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to travel into space.
“Pretty obvious and convincing proof,” according to Ciannilli, was shown by the underwater footage.
The item is larger than 15 feet by 15 feet (4.5 meters by 4.5 meters), and it is probably greater because some of it is covered in sand. It is assumed that the object is from the shuttle’s belly because it has square thermal tiles, according to Ciannilli.
While NASA decides what to do next, the fragment is still lying on the ocean floor just off the coast of Florida, close to Cape Canaveral. The United States government still owns it. All seven members of the Challenger crew have been notified of their families.
For the crew’s legacy, we want to make sure that everything we do is the proper thing, said Ciannilli.
Since the accident, some 118 tonnes (107 metric tonnes) of Challenger debris have been found. Included in that percentage are pieces of the two solid-fuel boosters, an external fuel tank, and about 47% of the overall vehicle.
At the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the majority of the recovered wreckage is still buried in decommissioned missile silos. The shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated over Texas during reentry in 2003, killing seven crew, has a left side panel on display with its burned cockpit glass frame in the visitor area at the Kennedy Space Center.
The amount of Columbia that has been retrieved is far less—42 tonnes (38 metric tonnes), or 38% of the shuttle. The large hangar owned by Kennedy has converted offices where the remains of the Columbia are kept.
Challenger, which was launched on a particularly chilly morning, was brought down by corroded O-ring seals in the right rocket. As a result of foam insulation separating from the external fuel tank during liftoff, Columbia ended up with a sliced left wing. Mismanagement was also held accountable.