A HUGE chunk of Nasa’s doomed Challenger mission has been uncovered nearly 37 years after it exploded, killing everyone on board.
The ill-fated space shuttle tragically exploded dozens of seconds after liftoff in 1986, killing seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.
Divers were actually searching for a WWII-era aircraft near the Bermuda Triangle.
But instead they stumbled upon one of the largest pieces ever discovered of the space catastrophe.
Video footage from the History Channel shows a massive, well-preserved piece of the wreck fitted with thermal tiles.
This was a part of the ship’s bottom designed to withstand extreme heat when it returned to Earth.
“When we found it, there were a lot of mixed feelings,” marine biologist Mike Barnette told AFP.
“I’m used to diving on shipwrecks that are decades to centuries old and are not part of the space program. That’s pretty unique.
“That quickly turned into a realization, ‘Yeah, that’s an episode I lived through. When that happened, I remember exactly where I was when I saw that live on TV.’”
The full size is unknown as part of the fragment is buried in the sand.
But the visible part is about 4.5 by 4.5 meters.
Nasa has confirmed it is a Challenger artifact and officials are now considering what to do with it to honor the seven who died.
“This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause, highlight the legacy of the seven pioneers we lost, and reflect on how this tragedy has changed us,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The analysis is not believed to shed new light on the cause of the tragedy, which has long been blamed on vital rubber seals being damaged by severe cold.
The Challenger broke up at 11:39 a.m. local time on January 28, 1986 after only 73 seconds of flight.
A few seconds into the mission, a flame was seen bursting through the solid rocket booster, which would ultimately result in the catastrophic explosion that claimed the lives of the astronauts and crew members on board.
McAuliffe was a New Hampshire high school teacher who was selected from more than 11,000 applicants for the flight and would have been NASA’s first designated teacher in space.
The other six crew members were Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Mission Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Pilot Mike J. Smith, and Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka.
The History Channel is scheduled to air the first episode about the discovery on November 22nd.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9714001/nasa-challenger-space-shuttle-fragment-found/ Fragment of a doomed Challenger ship found 37 years after a NASA spacecraft explosion that killed seven space heroes