A soccer ball that was on the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle has finally made it to space 30 years later. This was possible because of a connection between one of the Fallen Astronauts and current commander of the International Space Station.
The commanding officer of the station’s Expedition 50 crew, NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough posted a photo of the soccer ball floating of the windows in the orbiting laboratory’s Cupola.
“This ball was on Challenger that fateful day, ” Kimbrough wrote.“Flown by Ellison Onizuka for his daughter, a soccer player.” Kimbrough ended his post by referencing Clear Lake High School(CLHS). Just like Onizuka, Kimbrough has been a ‘Falcon Dad.’ Onizuka’s daughter, Janelle, was a 16-year old member of the soccer team and is now a soccer mom.
Ellison Onizuka was on his second flight as a mission specialist when the Challenger was lost just 73 seconds into its flight. Owing to the cold weather, a seal on one of the twin rocket boosters.
Gas burning through the wall of the right booster damaged its connection to the vehicle, causing the external tank to fail structurally. This caused the Challenger to break apart, exposing it to aerodynamic forces and fell in pieces into the ocean.
The tragedy claimed the lives of Onizuka and seven other Astronauts and several of Onizuka’s personal effects, including the soccer ball, were found floating in the water during the retrieval of the wreckage of the Challenger.
The School tweeted on Friday, “Thank You, Shane Kimbrough, for helping a piece of CLHS history complete its mission in space.”