Science | November 11, 2022 2:48 pm

Divers Discover Artifact From Space Shuttle Challenger

NASA confirmed the discovery

Challenger memorial
Florida, Titusville, Space View Park, Challenger Space Shuttle memorial.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In January of 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after its launch, leading to the deaths of its crew and prompting a lengthy investigation that cast a long shadow over crewed spaceflight in the years that followed. The tragedy also left a significant mark on the American public consciousness, with the question of when they heard the news of the disaster serving as a generational touchstone for many.

Decades later, the events of that day in 1986 are hard to forget. And a recent discovery off the coast of Florida has brought the tragedy back into public view. A documentary crew looking for signs of an aircraft from World War II in the waters off the coast of Florida ended up coming across something very different. NASA has since confirmed that divers on the crew came across an artifact from the Challenger mission.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. “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.”

According to NASA’s announcement of the artifact, the agency is currently “considering what additional actions it may take” with respect to the artifact. A documentary focusing on its discovery will air on the History Channel later this month.