Challenger – Space Shuttle Launch – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by 3Dsculptor
More than three decades after it broke apart and all seven people aboard were tragically killed, a piece of the wrecked space shuttle, the Challenger, was discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
Divers spotted a “huge man-made item” that was partially hidden by sand while searching for World War II-era airplane debris, according to a news release from NASA on Thursday.
The crew got in touch with NASA due to the artifact’s proximity to the Florida Space Coast and its construction.
According to NASA official Michael Ciannilli, the find is one of the largest fragments of the spaceship to have ever been located.
“Upon first hearing about it, it brings you right back to 1986,” he said. “My heart skipped a beat, I must say, and it brought me right back to 1986… and what we all went through as a nation.”
On January 28, 1986, the shuttle disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight. It exploded 46,000 feet over the water off the Florida coast of Cape Canaveral.
Francis R. “Dick” Scobee served as the mission’s commander, and Michael J. Smith served as the mission’s pilot. Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, Gregory B. Jarvis, and S. Christa McAuliffe, a Concord, New Hampshire, high school social studies teacher, were among the other astronauts. In July 1985, she had been chosen as the project’s top candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Program.
NASA said an agency investigation showed that unexpected cold temperatures affected “the integrity of O-ring seals in the solid rocket booster segment joints.”
“While it has been nearly 37 years since seven daring and brave explorers lost their lives aboard Challenger, this tragedy will forever be seared in the collective memory of our country,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “For millions around the globe, myself included, Jan. 28, 1986, still feels like yesterday.”
“We want to make sure whatever we do, we do the right thing for the legacy of the crew,” Ciannilli said.
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Born and raised in South Florida, Krystal is a recent graduate from the University of Miami with professional writing experience at the collegiate and national news outlet levels. She’s a foodie who loves all things travel, the beach, & visiting new places throughout Florida.