The Documentary Team Finds Challenger Wreckage Underwater: Explorers combing the Atlantic Ocean for World War II relics found a 20-foot chunk of Space Shuttle Challenger wreckage, which exploded shortly after launch in 1986.
The Challenger’s Sunken Remains Are Discovered by the Documentary Crew
Explorers combing the Atlantic Ocean for World War II relics found a 20-foot chunk of Space Shuttle Challenger wreckage, which exploded shortly after launch in 1986. The History Channel and NASA said Thursday that the Challenger section was found near Florida’s east coast while filming “The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters.” History Channel premieres the series this month.
On January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded, killing all seven crew members, including a teacher who was to become the first civilian in space. That morning, US schoolchildren watched the bomb on TV in fear. In a press release, NASA stated it was contemplating how to remember Challenger’s fallen crew and their families. In high school, undersea adventurer Mike Barnette watched the tragedy on TV. His crew identified the first spacecraft debris since the shuttle came ashore in 1996.
Barnette told CNN in a phone interview Thursday that she could nearly smell the Challenger explosion. “It burnt into my brain.” In March, Barnette and his colleagues searched the Bermuda Triangle, a region of the northern Atlantic Ocean where scores of shipwrecks and plane accidents have occurred. The crew also targeted a spot beyond the triangle, near Florida’s Space Coast, where NASA has launched rockets since its founding.
According to the History Channel, the dive crew was hunting for a WWII-era rescue plane that inexplicably disappeared in December 1945, but a more recent device partially concealed by sand on the bottom caught their attention. Barnette stated the first dive was like swimming in Guinness beer due to a storm. He stated visibility was poor.
A second dive in May yielded clear footage of the wreckage. They showed Barnette’s old friend, former NASA astronaut Bruce Melnick, their discovery, who suspected it was Challenger debris. Challenger square tiles alerted the explorers that they had found a big portion of the orbiter’s underbelly. As the shuttle descended from space, hundreds of silicon tiles shielded it from heat.
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The Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff from Florida, killing everyone aboard. A NASA analysis found that Challenger’s solid rocket booster’s rubber “O-ring” seal broke due to unusually low temperatures on the launchpad. It leaked extremely explosive gases, causing the horrific explosion.
“While it has been over 37 years since seven bold and brave explorers died onboard Challenger, this tragedy will long be burned in the collective consciousness of our country. “For millions throughout the world, including myself, Jan. 28, 1986, still feels like yesterday,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remarked.
This finding allows us to pause, honor the seven pioneers we lost, and reflect on how this tragedy changed us. As our missions explore more of the cosmos, safety must always be our first priority at NASA.
The History Channel’s six-part “The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters” starts on November 22 at 10 p.m. ET.