Divers Searching for Aircraft Wreckage Find Part of Space Shuttle Challenger

Divers Searching for Aircraft Wreckage Find Part of Space Shuttle Challenger

Divers searching for wreckage of a 1945 aircraft that disappeared instead found a 20-foot piece of NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger. The HISTORY Channel will show what its divers found on a November 22 episode of a series about the Bermuda Triangle, although this was not found in that area, but off the coast of Cape Canaveral.

The space shuttle Challenger with its seven-person crew was destroyed 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1986 from Kennedy Space Center, FL on the STS-51L mission. No one survived.

The crew of Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-51L: from left – front row Mike Smith (NASA), Dick Scobee (NASA), Ron McNair (NASA); back row, Ellison Onizuka (NASA), Christa McAuliffe (Teacher-in-Space), Greg Jarvis (Hughes Aircraft), Judy Resnik (NASA).

The HISTORY Channel revealed today that its diver team found a 20-foot segment of Challenger while searching for wreckage of a PBM Martin Mariner Rescue Plane that disappeared on December 5, 1945. They were filming part of a series on “The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters.”

NASA and the HISTORY Channel stressed this find was outside the Bermuda Triangle, however, offshore of Cape Canaveral.

Underwater explorer and marine biologist Mike Barnette and wreck diver Jimmy Gadomski exploring a twenty-foot segment of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger, the team discovered in the waters off the coast of Florida during the filming of The HISTORY®Channel’snew series “The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters”premiering Tuesday, November 22 at 10/9c. Photo Credit:The HISTORY® Channel

NASA confirmed the artifact is from Challenger.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who flew on the space shuttle mission immediately before Challenger when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said it seems like yesterday.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “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.”

By law, all space shuttle artifacts belong to the U.S. Government and the agency said it is considering what actions to take “that will properly honor the legacy of Challenger’s fallen astronauts and the families who loved them.”

Mike Ciannilli, Program Manager of NASA’s Apollo Challenger Columbia Lessons Learned Program, said in video remarks that one of the first things NASA did was to advise the families of the find and they are asking for privacy. He said he believes this segment is one of the largest pieces of Challenger to be recovered.

The HISTORY Channel’s six part series premiers on November 22 at 10:00 pm ET/PT. In a statement, it said: “Viewers will get a first-hand look from the very first dive to the teams’ meeting at NASA to see how this rare and important discovery unfolded.”

Most of the remains of the Challenger orbiter are buried in a decommissioned missile silo on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station adjacent to KSC, although part of the fuselage is at the KSC Visitor Center in the “Forever Remembered” exhibit.  The commingled remains of the crew members are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The families created The Challenger Center for Space Science Education that offers STEM education experiences for students to carry on the education mission of STS-51L, which included Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe.

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