STS-51-L Recovered Debris (Lower Right Vertical Stabilizer)
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. Among other debris found in the ocean, search and recovery teams located this piece of the right vertical stabilizer. Although the stabilizer's surface suffered some heat discoloration and burns, the inner aluminum structure showed no signs of having melted. Investigators found various pieces of material from other parts of the Shuttle embedded into the surface of the thermal protection tiles, as well as exhaust traces.
NASA Identifier: GPN-2004-00005
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