Saturday, January 29, 2011

What symbolic item of cargo miraculously survived the Challenger disaster -- and is still in service today?

View of the Liftoff of the Shuttle Challenger ...Image via WikipediaFive years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, I wrote this Geek Trivia column. Half a decade later, I modestly pass this bit of history on to my readers again.
What notable item of nonscientific cargo survived the Challenger disaster, going on to have its own unique, symbolic career?

An American flag on loan from Boy Scout Troop 514 from Monument, CO was onboard the Challenger when it broke apart, and salvage efforts recovered it from the Atlantic Ocean completely intact inside its sealed plastic container.

Now known as the Challenger Flag, it has enjoyed some storied exploits since its discovery during the Challenger wreckage recovery efforts. ... Though explosion all but destroyed the flag's commemorative case and a group of silver medallions along with the Challenger, the flag itself survived to fly at many notable events and locations. ...

NASA returned the flag to Troop 514 in late 1986, but it did not remain with them long. In early 1987, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger designated the Challenger Flag as the official flag of the U.S. Constitution's Bicentennial celebrations. On Sept. 17, 1987, the Challenger Flag served as a featured part of the Constitutional Parade in Philadelphia, and the following day it flew once again above the U.S. Capitol.

The Challenger Flag then went into semi-retirement for the next 15 years, serving only as an honored artifact in Colorado Boy Scout Eagle Court ceremonies. Then, in 2002, the troop loaned the flag to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for display in Salt Lake City while the city hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

Today, the Challenger Flag again resides in the possession of Troop 514, awaiting its next call to duty.
Read the complete column here.

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