Home USA News Divers found part of the space shuttle “Challenger” off Florida

Divers found part of the space shuttle “Challenger” off Florida

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Divers looking for World War II wreckage off Florida have found it instead part of the space shuttle Challenger that exploded on live television in 1986, according to NASA.

The discovery was announced Nov. 10 after NASA officials reviewed underwater footage recorded by a team working for the History Channel, according to a NASA press release.

“The artifact was found by a television documentary film crew searching for World War II-era aircraft wreckage,” NASA said.

“Divers noticed a large man-made object on the seabed, partially covered with sand. The proximity to Florida’s Space Coast, along with the subject’s modern design and availability of 8-inch square tiles, prompted the documentary team to contact NASA.”

Object “Over 15 feet by 15 feet” and even more may be hidden under the sand, according to the Associated Press. “Because the piece has square thermal tiles on it, it is believed to be from the belly of the shuttle,” the AP said.

_The Bermuda Triangle_ Challenger Discovery_Photo 3.jpg
A History Channel diving team found a twenty-foot segment of the 1986 space shuttle Challenger in the waters off the coast of Florida, according to NASA. History channel’s photo

The exact location and depth of Cape Canaveral has not been reported.

NASA says it is “considering what further action it may take with respect to the artifact,” which remains the property of the US government.

“For millions of people around the world, myself included, January 28, 1986 seems like yesterday,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a release.

“This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause once again, to lift up the legacy of the seven pioneers we lost, and to reflect on how this tragedy has changed us.”

The final Challenger mission involved schoolteacher S. Christa McAuliffe, who died along with the rest of the crew when the plane exploded 73 seconds after takeoff.

An investigation found that “unexpectedly low temperatures affected the integrity of the sealing rings in the joints of the solid rocket launch vehicle segment,” NASA said. The damage was done when a cold front crossed the state, causing ice to form on the shuttle, experts said.

The diving team that captured the footage worked for the History Channel, which plans to feature the discovery in a documentary to air on November 22.

“Although the episode will appear as part of the Bermuda Triangle series, the artifact was found in the waters off Florida’s Space Coast, northwest of the area known as the Bermuda Triangle,” NASA said.

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history and a minor in geology.

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