Divers searching the Bermuda Triangle for World War II-era aircraft found a piece of NASA history: wreckage from the space shuttle Challenger, which exploded 73 seconds after liftoff Jan. 28, 1986.
This wreckage, discovered well northwest of the Bermuda Triangle, will be part of a History Channel documentary called “The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters,” which will air Nov. 22.
“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. For millions around the globe, myself included, Jan. 28, 1986, still feels like yesterday,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause once again, to uplift the legacies of the seven pioneers we lost and to reflect on how this tragedy changed us. At NASA, the core value of safety is — and must forever remain — our top priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before.”
The last Challenger mission, STS-51L, was commanded by Francis R. “Dick” Scobee and piloted by Michael J. Smith. The other crew members were mission specialists Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka and Judith A. Resnik; payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis; and teacher S. Christa McAuliffe.
All seven astronauts died. A second space shuttle disaster in February 2003, when Columbia broke apart upon reentry, killed an additional seven astronauts.
NASA said it’s considering how to use the newly found artifact to honor the legacy of Challenger’s astronauts. It also emphasized that space shuttle artifacts remain property of the U.S. government. Anyone who finds artifacts should contact NASA at ksc-public-inquiries@to return the items.
Gotta say, as someone who vividly remembers the news of the Challenger exploding, this hit me when I read it. Regardless of whether you remember that day or not, I urge you to listen to this episode of One Year: 1986, in which three of the teachers that were finalists for the Teacher in Space contest talk about their experiences. Be prepared to feel some real feels when you do. CultureMap has more.