Space shuttle Challenger's fallen flags and mission patches, 30 years later
The flags and patches were found the next day, floating in the Atlantic Ocean, among the debris from the fallen space shuttle Challenger.
The nylon banners and embroidered emblems, packaged in watertight pouches, were intended for NASA employees and other supporters of the 51-L mission, to be distributed after Challenger and its seven-member crew returned from orbiting the Earth for six days. Instead, 73 seconds into the flight, a problem with a solid rocket booster resulted in the Challenger breaking apart.
Originally put on the orbiter as mementos of NASA's 25th space shuttle mission, the flags and patches now took on a different role – as memorials for the astronauts lost in the U.S. space program's first tragedy during flight.