Speed Reads

Surprise discovery

Documentary crew finds debris from Space Shuttle Challenger 1986 launch

Explorers searching the Atlantic Ocean for lost World War II artifacts surprisingly uncovered a 20-foot-long piece of debris from the infamous 1986 explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The fortuitous discovery occurred off the east coast of Florida during the filming of a forthcoming series called The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed WatersCNN reports, per The History Channel and NASA.

The team of divers was trying to locate a World War II-era rescue plane that disappeared in December 1945, but was surprised to find a piece of debris that appeared more modern, per CNN. They turned their discovery over to NASA in August, with the space agency only recently confirming the debris had indeed originated from the failed Challenger launch.

"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," NASA said in a news release. "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."

The Challenger broke apart midair shortly after its launch on Jan. 28, 1985. All seven crew members, including a teacher poised to become the first civilian in space, were killed in the incident. Scores of Americans witnessed the blast on a live television broadcast of the launch. 

The six-part The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters series premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Nov. 22 on the History Channel.