Keith Connors

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Divers Discover Piece Of Space Shuttle Challenger. Chances are, you or someone you know saw the Challenger explode. Can remember the horrific TV coverage. And the small speck of a flame suddenly erupt and blow the shuttle into several pieces. The smoke trails, heading off in different directions. As the decades have passed, the sharpness of America’s loss has thankfully dulled.

But this week brought back some memories of that day over Cape Canaveral, Florida. As divers were trying to find a downed World War 2 airplane in the same area, they ran across something they didn’t expect to find. It was a huge chunk of the space shuttle Challenger. The section that is exposed on the ocean floor measures approximately 15 feet by 15 feet, but more could be hidden just beneath the sand.

The shuttle exploded on January 28th, 1986, killing all six passengers, including the first ever school teacher to fly into space, Christa McAuliffe. This week’s discovery marks the largest piece of the craft to be found since it crashed. Because the newly-discovered piece of wreckage has thermal tiles that were used to dissipate extreme heat, investigators say it was probably a panel from the underside of the craft. NASA verified the authenticity of the wreckage after watching a video of the dive. They announced the find on Thursday.

While the piece has been located and identified, NASA has not yet decided what to do with it. The United States government still owns any pieces of the shuttle, no matter when or where they are located or recovered. All of the victims’ families have been notified of the discovery. The History Channel will be airing a special which will cover the search for the WW2 aircraft and the subsequent discovery of the Challenger wreckage on November 22nd. Source: