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Large section of space shuttle Challenger found on ocean floor

Author
AP,
Publish Date
Fri, 11 Nov 2022, 12:19PM
Underwater explorer and marine biologist Mike Barnette and wreck diver Jimmy Gadomski explore a 6m segment of the 1986 space shuttle Challenger discovered in the waters off the coast of Florida. Photo / AP
Underwater explorer and marine biologist Mike Barnette and wreck diver Jimmy Gadomski explore a 6m segment of the 1986 space shuttle Challenger discovered in the waters off the coast of Florida. Photo / AP

Large section of space shuttle Challenger found on ocean floor

Author
AP,
Publish Date
Fri, 11 Nov 2022, 12:19PM

A large section of the destroyed space shuttle Challenger has been found buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, more than three decades after the tragedy that killed a schoolteacher and six others.

Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre announced the discovery on Thursday.

“Upon first hearing about it, it brings you right back to 1986,” said Michael Ciannilli, a Nasa manager in charge of the remains of both lost shuttles, Challenger and Columbia.

In a Nasa interview, he said it is one of the biggest pieces of Challenger ever found in the decades since the accident.

Divers for a TV documentary crew first spotted the piece in March while seeking wreckage of a World War II plane. Nasa recently verified through video that the piece was part of the shuttle that broke apart shortly after liftoff on January 28, 1986.

All seven on board were killed, including the first schoolteacher bound for space, Christa McAuliffe.

The remnant is more than 4.5m by 4.5m; it’s likely bigger because part of it is covered with sand. Because of the presence of square thermal tiles, it’s believed to be from the shuttle’s belly, officials said.

The fragment remains on the ocean floor just off the Florida coast near Cape Canaveral, as Nasa determines the next step.

It remains the property of the US government.

Ciannilli said the families of all seven Challenger crew members had been notified.

A History Channel documentary detailing the discovery airs in the US on November 22.

- Seth Borenstein, AP

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