STS-51-L Recovered Debris (ET and SRBs)
(April 8, 1986) On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right Solid Rocket Booster caused an explosion soon after launch. After the accident, search and recovery teams worked for months to bring debris from the Shuttle to impoundment areas at the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where reconstruction teams separated the pieces of the Orbiter from those of the External Tank (ET) and the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB). Taped squares on the floor turned the impoundment areas into a grid in which the reconstruction teams could piece together the Shuttle debris like a puzzle with many missing segments. Shown here are the remains of the ET and, at the far end, the frustums of the two SRBs. The frustum is the section of the conical end of the rocket that remains after the tip has been removed.
NASA Photo Collection