STS-51-L Recovered Debris (Left Solid Rocket Booster)
(March 7, 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. Search and recovery teams lifted this fragment of the Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) from the ocean onto a waiting ship and then returned it to Kennedy Space Center for the investigation into causes of the accident. A chemical profile on the propellant traces remaining on the metal combined with its ocean location in comparison to radar trajectory charts led the teams to conclude that this piece of debris belonged to the left-hand SRB.
NASA Photo Collection