Shuttle Part Found In Texas

08/03/2021 01:14 PM ET

A part from the space shuttle Columbia was found in Texas. The recent historic drought caused Lake Nacogdoches to recede back and expose the missing part of the shuttle. NASA says it is a tank that provides power and water for shuttle missions.

“It’s one of ours,” said Lisa Malone, a spokeswoman for the agency. NASA was trying to figure out how to retrieve the 4 foot in diameter piece that is full of mud. “We’re looking into whether we’ll send a team out or local authorities can,” Malone said.

Back in 2003 Nacogdoches was part of the debris field where parts of the shuttle were found when it broke up on re-entry into earth’s atmosphere. Authorities say when the item was found they notified NASA representatives on Friday. “We want to remind everyone that the rules are the same as they were back in 2003. If this object is indeed a part of the shuttle, it is government property, and it is a criminal offense to tamper with it,” said Sgt. Greg Sowell of the Nacogdoches Police Department.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board determined that a hole was punctured in the leading edge on one of Columbia’s wings, made of a carbon-carbon composite. The hole had formed when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank peeled off during the launch 16 days earlier and struck the shuttle’s wing. During the intense heat of re-entry, hot gases penetrated the interior of the wing, destroying the support structure and causing the rest of the shuttle to break apart.

The nearly 84,000 pieces of collected debris of the vessel are stored in a 16th floor office suite in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. The collection was opened to the media once and has since been open only to researchers. Unlike Space Shuttle Challenger, which had a replacement orbiter built, Columbia did not have a replacement orbiter built.

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