Energy

Astronauts Spot Soccer Ball Floating In Earth’s Orbit

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Astronauts spotted a soccer ball floating in space from the ill-fated launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger more than 30 years ago.

Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka carried the ball for his daughter, who was an avid soccer player. Onizuka was on his second shuttle flight on Jan. 28, 1986, when the Challenger tragically exploded after cold weather had compromised a seal on its twin solid rocket boosters.

Onizuka’s soccer ball never made it into space. So, when NASA found it floating in the ocean, they sent it into space with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the commander of the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 50 crew

Kimbrough posted a photo of the soccer ball floating by the orbiting laboratory’s cupola.

Kimbrough’s son plays sports at the exact same high school where Onizuka’s daughter played socce. Kimbrough took the soccer ball into space to “complete its mission.”

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