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Football orbits earth in remembrance of Challenger tragedy

The ball was originally packed on to the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 by NASA's Ellison Onizuka, one of the seven astronauts on board who tragically lost their lives when the shuttle exploded shortly after lift-off.

It had been signed and presented to Onizuka by Clear Lake High School in Houston, near to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, with his daughter also signing the ball.

Incredibly, the ball was recovered from the wreckage and has been displayed at Clear Lake for three decades.

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, whose young son attends the same school, offered to personally escort the ball into space to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Challenger tragedy as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance.

This photo tweeted by the space station shows the ball in front of the station’s Cupola window currently orbiting the earth. Cool, huh?

Soccer ball from space shuttle Challenger in 1986 now orbiting the Earth on station 31 years later. More details... https://t.co/DCvitjQOavpic.twitter.com/3vZfbEhZB9

— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) February 8, 2017

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