The story of how a soccer ball fell to Earth from space and came back
In 1986, the Challenger shuttle exploded 73 seconds after the flight began, thus ending the lives of seven members of the NASA team. The ship scattered into 14 tons of debris that could be found – they all scattered across the ocean’s water surface, and a special search team was forced to search for the remains of the crew’s bodies among them. One of the findings of this team was a battered football match – all covered with inscriptions from Texas students. The children wished the astronauts good luck.
Janelle Onizuka, the daughter of one of the astronauts (Eliason Onizuka), told reporters later that she handed the ball to her father on the eve of departure. Her father was then in quarantine, mandatory for all astronauts on the eve of departure, but he still managed to see his daughter – and it was then that she gave him a gift. And that was the last time a girl saw her father alive. The father did not return home, but the ball returned.
After an investigation into the disaster, NASA returned to the families of the victims all their personal items that they could find. So Janel and her mother Lorna got this ball. They did not want to make an artifact out of it or a memorable thing stored in a prominent place, and sent it to the school where the ball was placed on the shelf, signed, and where it lay, gathering dust for several decades.
30 years after this tragedy, one of the parents of children studying at this school drew attention to the ball, which was put on public display. The man saw the barely visible inscription on the side of the ball and realized that this was the very same soccer ball that flew into space, but returned to earth under such tragic circumstances. The current director of the institution was not aware of the history of this trophy and was genuinely surprised by this turn of events.
And it was necessary to happen so – just a few years later, in October 2016, the school was approached from NASA with a proposal to send something like that with astronauts in the upcoming flight Expedition 49, during which astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough was to spend 173 days in space . The director immediately thought of an unusual ball stored in her school.
When the astronaut was given a commemorative ball, he was amazed. “I admit, I am overwhelmed with emotions only from the thought that I am holding such an object. With all this story behind this ball, just think how much had happened to him before he got here, ”said Robert Kimbrough. “I think about the astronaut’s family, what this ball meant to them. I even took a picture of him and sent these photos to them. ”
As a result, the ball went into space again. This time, despite possible prejudices, nothing happened to the crew. The ball flew with an astronaut to the International Space Station and after it was returned to the school again. Now the ball was again placed on the place where it was kept before, but now they did not forget to sign such an important exhibit. The ball lying on the plate marked the milestones of this trophy’s life: “Space Shuttle Challenger, January 28, 1986 – International Space Station, October 19, 2016 – Clear Lake School, November 3, 2017.”
In our article “Cosmos is Near”, we present to your attention an absolutely amazing collection of pictures taken from space. Saturn, Mars, the Moon and, of course, our native Earth. This is not a simulation, these are real photos taken with the help of various devices scattered by people in the Solar System.