When Ellison Onizuka made his second flight as a mission specialist aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1986, one of the personal effects he carried with him was a soccer ball signed by members of the Clear Lake High School girls and boys soccer team, where his daughter attended school. The shuttle, of course, broke apart 73 seconds into flight after the failure of an O-ring in one of its solid rocket boosters.
Eventually, about 120 tons of Challenger’s wreckage were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, including three quarters of the crew cabin. In addition to the soccer ball signed by the Falcon soccer players, according to CollectSpace, among Onizuka’s personal items recovered from the shuttle were a football and an American flag.
Now that soccer ball has gone back into space. After it was recovered, the signed ball was eventually returned to Clear Lake High School. Astronaut Shane Kimbrough’s son attends the school, and as …