Soccer ball completes its mission in space after 30 years
The ball, which belonged to the daughter of Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who lost his life along with 6 others after the shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its launch
Ersin Çelik09 FEBRUARY 2017, 12:06Yeni Şafak
A soccer ball that was on the ill-fated launch of the space shuttle Challenger has finally made it into orbit 30 years later, and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the commander of the International Space Station's Expedition 50 crew, has shared a photo of the ball floating in space.
The ball, which belonged to the daughter of Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who lost his life along with 6 others after the shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its launch, was among the personal items he carried with him on that fateful flight.
Cold weather compromised a seal on one of the twin solid rocket boosters in the shuttle. Gas burning through the wall of the right booster damaged its connection to the vehicle, causing the structural failure of the external tank, which broke Challenger apart mid-flight.
Onizuka's daughter, Janelle, had signed the ball with her school teammates in 1986 and Challenger debris was later found in the sea, along with an American flag that belonged to Onizuka.
Upon noticing the ball approaching his window inside the International Space Station, Kimbrough grabbed his camera and shared a photo of the football, with the caption: “This ball was on Challenger that fateful day. Flown by Ellison Onizuka for his daughter, a soccer player from Clear Lake High School," using the hashtag #NASARemembers.
Janelle Onizuka had this to say after receiving news of her soccer ball finally being recovered 30 years later:
"The soccer ball in many ways has continued the mission my father embarked upon so many years ago," remarked Onizuka-Gillian in the statement released by her former high school, "It has continued to travel and explore space, while inspiring so many through its history."